Throwback Thursday! Dumb and …uhh What’s That Other Word?

(May 23, 2015) I like to think I’m a relatively smart person. Of course I like to think a lot of things about myself which aren’t true, but that’s a topic for another post. (Coming soon to a blog near you, Top Ten Lies I Tell Myself!) If you’re reading this, you’re obviously a very smart person too. (Top Ten Lies I Tell My Readers) Let’s, for a moment, be honest with ourselves. It’s impossible to know everything about everything, right? So sometimes all of us geniuses feel dumb in certain situations. Some more than others of course, but there’s no need to raise your hand right now. If you’re an adult with children and they can make your cell phone do technological cartwheels while you can barely figure out how to text without accidentally calling 911 then you know what I mean.

Admittedly, I had one of those situations where I felt dumb the other night. I know, I know, after putting me up on the pedestal that you have, it must be very upsetting for you to hear this about me. I had to call the cable company for technical support and the conversation went like this:

Me: Hi, umm,..I tried to turn my TV on but it’s doing that thing where there’s a message on the screen and it won’t turn on. Well, it’s on, but there’s no picture.

Tech Guy: Did you turn it off and turn it back on again?

The I.T. Crowd

The I.T. Crowd

Me: Yes. Same thing. It did this once before and the guy told me what to do and I tried that but it didn’t work.

Tech Guy: Hold on. Let me pull up your account. What’s the last four digits of your social security number, your mothers maiden name, the house number of the street you grew up on. No, not that one, the other one, and what kind of car did your fourth grade teacher drive.

Me: Blah, blah blah (gives information) Wait, was it what color was the house my fourth grade teacher lived in? Blue, no, wait, I think it was purple. Hold on, I’m going to try something. I switched the HDMI input and connected the satellite feed into my VHS player. That should work right?

Tech Guy: Ok, I see your account here. Oh, it’s you Mr. Taylor. Just set the remote down and step away from the television. Nope. Don’t touch it. No, that’s too close. Is there another room you can go to? Just wait there. We’re sending a guy out to your house. I’ll stay on the line with you. Just take deep breaths. It’s all going to be over soon.

Me: There’s just so many cords and wires! Why do there have to be so many? Why?!!? I just plugged the coffee maker into my chromecast. That will work, right? Dammit! Why does there have to be so many?

Tech Guy: Calm down Mr. Taylor, try to breath into a bag. There’s no need for tears. Someone will be there soon. (shouts to someone in the background “What the ETA? We’ve got a Code Zulu Banshee here! Code Zulu Banshee!”

Me: (sobbing) There’s just so many. So many wires. So many buttons. Why does there have to be so many? A man should not have to go through this to watch a few Friends reruns! You know Ross is the unsung hero of that whole show. You know that right? Ross fecking Gellar could figure this out! Why can’t I? You know he was a paleontologist before he was 30. That’s not easy. Neither is this. Wait, I think I’m on to something. What is it? White you’re right, red your dead? So if I switch…

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Tech Guy: Calm down Mr. Taylor. Our guys are at your house. They’re going to come in slowly. Just set the wires and cords down and let them help you. Don’t push any more buttons and this will all be over soon.

Cable company guys rush in and disarm me taking the remote  from my hand. Speaking into a mic on his shoulder “Headquarters, this is Captain Bravo, Tactical Response Team 1.  The scene has been secured. It appears that Mr. Taylor was trying to change channels with his garage door opener. We’ve given him the remote. Situation de-escalated. We’re returning to base.”

So what are the situations you feel stupid in? Do you avoid them? Do you just give up? Do you try to figure them out? The second picture in this post is Chris O’Dowd as Roy from the British sitcom The I.T. Crowd. If you have Netflix, I strongly recommend a weekend binge watch. As long as you’ve read this far, would you mind doing me one tiny favor? One of my tweets is up for Tweet of The Week in a Chicago Tribune poll. Could you click THIS LINK and vote for me?

Have a great weekend! ~Phil

Top Ten Tuesday! The Top Ten Best Captains

If Sgt. Pepper had been promoted, this would have been an easier list. At the end please tell me your favorite or who you would add that I missed.

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10. Captain Jack Sparrow is the only captain on this list wearing eye liner.

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9. Captain Underpants: See? Not all captains are pirates or in the military! If you’re not familiar, Captain Underpants is a series of graphic novels, sort of, aimed at the 8-12 year old boys demographic, much like my blog.

Worst picture I've ever put on #ThePhilFactor

Worst picture I’ve ever put on #ThePhilFactor

8. Captain & Tennille: A cheesy husband/wife musical duo from the 70’s. The Captains “real” name is Daryl Dragon. He and Tennille used to wife swap with Tony Orlando and Dawn.

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7. Captain Morgan: Aaaand we’re back to the pirate theme. After this famous Englihman got done plundering Puerto Rico they named a rum after him.

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6. Captain America: This virtuous warrior always beats Captain England in a fight.

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5. Captain Hook:  That hook for a hand had to crimp his style with the ladies, but on the bright side he always had a corkscrew with him.

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4. Captain and Coke: If you sneak a flask of rum into the movies in your purse or under your coat, you can buy a large coke at concessions and you’re good to go for the next two hours. It makes any movie funnier.

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3. Captain Kangaroo was the main character on a terrible children’s show when I was a kid. Ironically, the show never featured an actual kangaroo, so I’m not sure who he was Captain over.

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2. Captain Kirk: He was a bad ass before the phrase bad ass was invented.

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1. Cap’n Crunch: I’d never disrespect the inventor of crunchberries by calling him “Captain” instead of Cap’n. Pretty sure he’d shiv me with a sharpened spoon and then use it to eat his breakfast over my cold, dead body. How’s that for a bad ass Captain?

Those are the ten best captains I could think of. Did I miss any of your favorites?

Have a great Tuesday! ~Captain Phil

If I Was The Royal Wedding Planner…

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Let’s face facts. That so called wedding yesterday was an abomination. What a terrible omen for the marriage of two seemingly nice people. If Britain still beheads people, whoever was the captain of that Titanic-esque disaster should be beheaded immediately. If I’m Harry, I insist on dropping the axe myself and presenting the offending head to my beloved Meghan so she can kick it across the Windsor Castle garden. Too much? I contend that the Royal Wedding was too little. Too little of everything. Talk about a snooze-fest! If that ceremony is remembered in history, it will be remembered as the most boring royal wedding ever.

Yes, I’m sure my U.K. friends, if I still have any left this far into my rant, will say that I’m just the stereotypical “ugly American” that doesn’t understand the pomp, circumstance, and traditions of English royalty. Well guess what my tea tipping friends, part of your royalty is now American. A few suspicious “accidents” and Meghan, Duchess of Suitsssex is your new Queen. If you’re going to let Americans into the monarchy, we might as well put our feet up and get comfortable. So here is how I would have planned the Royal Wedding:

Prince Harry’s Arrival: Dude showed up in a car like a commoner. Are you kidding me? You’re a fecking Prince! That is a lame arrival. A Prince needs to show up at his wedding on a giant white stallion that’s breathing fire. That’s what the chicks want to see. Seriously, what other way is there to announce yourself? I do give Harry props for inviting a couple ex-girlfriends. That’s a ballsy move.

Meghan’s Arrival: In a car with your mom? Boo hoo. How sweet! YAWN. Meghan, you’re an American! Arrive at your wedding like one! If I’m the wedding planner, Meghan parachutes onto the Windsor Castle grounds with her 100 foot train trailing behind her in the air. That, Meghan, is a badass move that would never be forgotten. That’s like legendary Disney Princess shit.

The Bishop: It’s hard to pick any problems with Reverend Michael Curry’s speech. It was pretty damn historic and spectacularly delivered. (He actually comes from my area of New York.) One of the best I’ve ever seen. I’d definitely keep the Dr. Martin Luther King speech, but… before he brings in MLK, I think he should have opened with historic words from another member of American royalty. A Prince in fact:

Dearly beloved, we have gathered here today to get through this thing called life. Electric word life. It means forever and that’s a mighty long time,
but I’m here to tell you there’s something else” 

And then the choir bursts into the chorus! Oh no! Let’s GoBOOM. Mic drop. That would have kicked off that ceremony with authority. Am I right?

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The Queen and Prince Philip: OK, who dressed the Queen? You know that at 147 years old that she didn’t dress herself. Really? Electric lime green? That’s the color you chose for the Queen Mum? And why does Prince Philip always look like he has two black eyes? Apparently when they’re getting kinky in the bedroom he likes it rough. One of those bruises was in the shape of a crown imprint.

The Guest List: Sure, it’s fine that Meghan invited all of her Suits friends. You’ve always got to invite co-workers don’t you? It’s not like she ran off to Vegas. They all knew she was getting married, so there was no way around it. But why were Oprah and George Clooney there? Seriously. If I’m able to invite anyone in the world, it’s not going to be Clooney and Oprah. Boring. I’m definitely going with Kanye. I hate Kanye as much as everyone else, but I’d be on the edge of my seat the whole time waiting to see when he’s going to grab the mic to declare something ridiculous. And Peter Dinklage. He should be in everything.

I could go on, but I don’t want this to be as long as the Royal Wedding coverage. Have a great Sunday everyone! ~ Prince Philip (the American one)

Throwback Thursday! Interview with Author Christopher Moore

This is one of my most popular posts ever. The author, Christopher Moore, who has several NYT bestsellers, couldn’t have been nicer and didn’t care that he was talking to a guy who’s blog only had about 150 followers at the time.

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(June 18, 2013) PT: Chris and welcome to The Phil Factor. Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions for my readers. For those of you who may not be familiar with Christopher Moore’s work he is the author of thirteen published novels and a graphic novel. Whether the genre be suspense, fantasy or the skewering of the vampire craze, you can always add the word humor in front of anything Christopher Moore writes. Christopher Moore is also one of the most fan friendly authors you’ll ever meet and if I’ve learned anything from his Facebook page it’s that he is a man who loves Meerkats.

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PT: Chris, speaking of your Facebook page, the Meerkat thing has been a running gag on your page for years. How did it get started?

Chris:  I don’t really remember. I think I was just scrolling through the channel guide on the TV one day and there were all these bizarre animal and vocational shows, and I thought, what if you combined one of those shows and had meerkats who were pizza delivery guys. So the first dozen or so Meerkat Pizza Delivery jokes were just promos on twitter for a non-existent TV show. As it went on, people started sending me pictures, and I started putting captions on them, and it just got out of hand. 

PT: Rumor has it that your novel The Stupidest Angel is in production to be a feature length film to be released later this year. Is it still on track to be out later this year and how much input have you had on the making of the movie?

Chris: The guy who is producing it has been breathlessly close to starting to film at least three times, but he’s missed the deadline if he were going to be able to release it in 2013. It’s been in development with the same guy for like six years, and he works hard and is very earnest, but as you might have guessed, it’s hard to get a movie made. I’m supposed to be in the movie as an animation character, and the producer listens to my suggestions on casting, but beyond that, I just keep writing books and waiting for news like anyone else. I sold my first book for a film twenty-three years ago and that one hasn’t made it to the screen yet, so I’m kind of used to not getting too excited about these things. 

PT: That’s too bad. I’ve often thought many of your novels would make great movies. One of my favorite novels of yours is Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal. Did you catch any flack from fans of Jesus Christ for some of the humor in that book?

Chris: Not at all. I think it had a self-correcting audience. In ten years, I’ve gotten perhaps 30,000 e-mails about it and only five have been negative, and four of those people hadn’t even read the book. It’s actually being taught in a number of seminaries and is on the recommended reading list at Harvard Divinity. I guess the people who were supposed to get the joke, got it, and those who wouldn’t, didn’t pick the book up. 

PT: Of all your characters, which one has the most of you in him or her?

Chris: Probably Tommy from my vampire series, although he’s not like me now, but me when I was 19 or 20, which he is in the books. He’s a kid from the Midwest who just sort of throws caution to the wind to goes, all by himself, to California to find his fortune and a career as a writer, and I sort of did that at his age, so his reactions are similar, I think, to what mine would have been in a similar situation, although I didn’t ever have a red-headed vampire as a girlfriend.

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PT: As I alluded to in the introduction, you’re extremely fan friendly. Why?

Chris: I don’t even think of my fans as fans. It always sounds strange to me. They are my readers. They are the people who allow me to do this wonderful thing that I get to do for a living. If my work didn’t resonate with my readers, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do, and I love doing what I do, so I guess I feel like I owe them. Plus, when you make people laugh, they are kindly disposed toward you, so most people I encounter are pretty nice. There are many worse ways to spend your time than entertaining people who love your work. 

PT: On your website, www.chrismoore.com you have apparel, something I doubt any other author has. How did that idea come to fruition and why the tie in with all profits going to MS research?

Chris: All the swag, from Fucksocks to T-shirts came from reader suggestions and requests. I never really wanted to be in the merchandise business, and I didn’t want to have to oversee the product. For a long time there was a volunteer from my old web forum who ran the store, then a few years ago I turned it over to a guy who specialized in making merch. (I think right now he’s had a management meltdown, so I don’t even know what’s available for sale anymore.) Anyway, since I didn’t want to put the effort into it, or feel like I was pimping t-shirts for a living, I decided to give all the proceeds to charity. About the time all of this was being set up, a young friend of mine was diagnosed with MS, so I decided to give all the proceeds to MS research. 

PT: There you have it ladies and gentlemen, the first ever mentions of Meerkats and Fucksocks on The Phil Factor. We are truly in groundbreaking, man on the moon territory, here. Chris, before you go, do you have a preview or teaser about your next book you’d like to share with your readers?

Chris:  It’s called The Serpent of Venice, and it’s the sequel to Fool, and is set in Venice with characters from Othello and The Merchant of Venice.

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Chris, thank you again for responding to the interview request of some random internet guy with a blog. For those of you who want to learn more about his hilarious and suspenseful novels you can find them in bookstores and at every online e-book retailer. You can also visit him at www.chrismoore.com, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. As always, please take a moment to hit the Facebook and Twitter share buttons below.

Have a great Thursday! ~Phil

Top Ten Tuesday! The Ten Best Books I’ve Ever Read. What Are Yours?

Like the title says, these are the ten best books that have ever read. They’re my favorites. Yours may be different. In fact, I’m hoping they are. Either in the comments or, in your own blog post with a link back, I’d like you to share some of your favorite books so that we can all maybe find a new favorite book or author from each other. Of course I won’t shamelessly plug my own books by putting them on my list, but if you want to, I won’t argue.

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10. The Vampire LeStat: by Anne Rice. Unbeknownst to most people (you know it’s serious when I use big words like unbeknownst) it wasn’t Stephanie Meyer who invented the vampire genre, but Anne Rice about fifteen years earlier. LeStat, referred to as the Brat Prince, is such a fun character you’ll want to become one of the undead just to hang out with him for eternity.

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9. The Da Vinci Code: by Dan Brown. The first in the series was easily the best. Don’t watch the movie because Tom Hanks stars in it with a ridiculously bad hairdo, but read the book.

8. How to Succeed in Evil: by Patrick E. McLean. Edwin Windsor is an Evil Efficiency Expert who contacts out his services to help supervillains be more villanous. Hilarious!  You end up rooting for evil!

7. Bite Me: by Christopher Moore, award winning, New York Times bestselling author who I interviewed for The Phil Factor about three years ago. Spoiler alert: This won’t be his only book on the list. Trust me on Christopher Moore. You’ll want to read so many of his books. Bite Me skewers the vampire genre with brilliant sarcasm.

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6. Dave Barry’s Complete Guide to Guys: by Pulitzer Prize winning Dave Barry, whom I interviewed for The Phil Factor in 2013. If you’re a woman, you’ll laugh as you read countless hilarious examples of the idiocy of men. If you’re a guy you”l see yourself in so many of the true stories.

5. 11/22/63: by Stephen King. I hope you didn’t watch the Hulu miniseries. They took some liberties with the plot that I didn’t think were necessary and detracted from the story. Read the book. It’s a surprising love story.

4. Good Omens: by Neil Gaimans and Terry Pratchett. Read. Laugh. Thank me later. Both authors are cherished titans of English literature, and their other solo works are brilliantly funny. Together they don’t disappoint.

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3. The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy: by Douglas Adams. This book is a literary classic. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT watch the movie. Read the book. Your cultural education cannot be considered complete until you’ve read this book.

2. A Dirty Job: by Christopher Moore. Being the Grim Reaper is a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it. Hilarity galore. If you enjoy the absurdity of Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett, then you’ll also love Christopher Moore.

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1. Odd Thomas: by Dean Koontz. In general I consider Dean Koontz to be Stephen King lite, but Odd Thomas is his signature character. I read books from a first person point of view. I become the protagonist when I read. Some characters fit in my head better than others. Odd Thomas fit me like a glove. For me, he was one of those characters where I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be him or have him as my best friend. I read the first Odd Thomas novel at least a decade ago and was disappointed earlier this year when, after 16 novels, the series came to an end.
Those are my top ten. What are yours? Answer in the comments or create a post and link back so we can all find a few more good reads.

Have a great Tuesday! ~Phil

Eurovision is a Jerk

For those of you not yet aware of the Eurovision song contest, it’s basically American Idol, but it’s an epic worldwide contest where each country sends one singer. Why isn’t America invited? Because they fear us, that’s why! I am hearby declaring this blog post a petition to Eurovision to have the U.S. winner of American Idol be our representative in a Eurovision Song Contest. We’re the United States of America for cripes sake! We can’t let the rest of the world doing things better than us!

( Photo by Pedro Fiúza/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Eurovision has been going on since 1956, the same year that The Simpsons started! It was originally begun as a way to promote peace and harmony among the nations. Look Eurovision people, right now, the United States is the country most likely to start a war. If you want to promote peace, let us in, or Donald Trump will threaten to bomb you. Of course, he’ll also probably want to be the United States contestant because he thinks he’s best in the world at everything.

Salvador Sobral, the winner at the Eurovision Grand Final on May 14, 2017 in Ukraine. Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

You know what would be great to promote peace? Use the Eurovision song contest to settle international beefs between countries. How about a rap battle between North Korea’s Kim Jon Un and Donald Trump? Here’s how that might go:

D. Trump: Your country North Korea sounds like diarrhea. You say you got nukes well put up your dukes.  

Kim Jong Un: The United States is high and mighty, but if you go to war with me you’ll soil your tighty whities! 

See? How much fun would that be? C’mon Eurovision! Don’t be a jerk! If you want to promote peace let the whole world in! I’m pretty sure that Australia isn’t in Europe but you let them in because of the almost British accent they have. Have a great Saturday! ~Phil

Throwback Thursday! Zombies and Carry On People Ate My Brain

I’m on vacation this week and didn’t even bring my laptop. I thought this would be an apropos throwback. I double dare you to click the link and read it! via Throwback Thursday! Zombies and Carry on People Ate My Brain

Have a great Thursday! ~Phil