Category Archives: Current Events

99 Chinese Balloons… 99 个中国气球

Apparently this was a popular look in 1980’s Germany

Some of you might remember the 1983 Nena hit song 99 Red Balloons/99 Luft Ballons. Apparently the Chinese like their luft ballons enough that they sent a couple of them to the U.S. and Latin America this week. Seriously, is there anyone else on the entire world wide web that in response to Chinese spying, would bring you the armpit hair of a 1980’s German pop star? Search engines won’t know what to make of this, so thank you to the 25 people who have read this entire paragraph.

I love the German version better (except for the armpit hair)

So the Chinese are spying on us with balloons? Maybe in another decade they’ll figure out how to use airplanes and then by 2050 maybe a satellite in orbit. C’mon China, if North Korea can fire a few missiles into the ocean, certainly you can figure out something more complex than balloons, right? Here’s my theory: they sent the balloons to throw us off the track where we believe that they’re using Tik Tok to spy on us.

Or maybe it’s balloon boy from 2009. Remember that?

If you don’t recall this or you’re from another country, in 2009 his parents sent this giant spaceship type balloon into the sky above Colorado and told authorities that their 6 year old son, Falcon, was in the runaway balloon. After 90 minutes of fighter jets pursuit, the balloon landed. When Falcon was not found to be inside, some moron claimed they had seen something fall from the balloon, and a ground search ensued. Later the boy was found in a closet at home and admitted that his idiot parents told him to hide so they could do the balloon bit for publicity. They both served some jail time and had to pay some big fines. If I’m balloon boy Falcon, I’m opening a hot air balloon ride company somewhere.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping waving good bye to the balloons

Hmm…Kim Jong Un was referred to as Rocket Man for his penchant for shooting missiles into the ocean. Apparently Xi Jinping, leader of China should be 2023’s Balloon Boy/ 气球男孩

I have one more theory…

Is it possible that Xi Jinping wanted to be perceived like “the great and powerful Oz”? What leader wouldn’t want that? Oz had a balloon and he had swag!

Hey Xi Jinping, this is all in good fun. Love the balloons, and if I end up suspiciously dead, everyone that reads this blog will point the finger at you!

Have a great Saturday everybody! You got my back, right? ~Phil

It’s Groundhog Day 2023!

The two best Phil’s ever! Punxusutawney and Me, just a few months ago.

In case you didn’t know, it’s Groundhog Day! Then again it’s felt like Groundhog Day for the last three years, hasn’t it?

Who doesn’t love this old movie? Especially since Bill Murray’s character was named Phil. And, the groundhog is also named Phil. Coincidence? I think not. This post was originally written for #ThePhilFactor on Feb. 2, 2006 and I now post it every year, over and over, just like Phil’s Groundhog Day in the movie.

(Feb. 2, 2006) Last week I waxed philosophic about the idiocy known as The Dr. Phil Show. This week, and today in particular it’s Punxsutawney Phil. Groundhog Day the movie: Good idea. Groundhog Day the tradition: Stupid idea.

The dimwitted people of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania have been shoving a rodent through a hole in a tree stump for almost 200 hundred years to find out if there will be 6 more weeks of winter. Hey morons, you live in the Northeast! There’s always 6 more weeks of winter! Check the calendar! It says that Spring starts on March 21st. That’s 7 weeks from now. You don’t need a rat being spooked by his shadow to figure this one out.

I’m always a sucker for a good Phil pun

At this point I’m getting tired of all these wanna-be Phil’s trying to horn in on my fame. If, coincidentally, a shot were to ring out in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania today and a certain rodent were to explode in a puff of fur, I was kidding when I wrote this. No harm meant, just a joke. You’ll all be my alibi right?

I’m curious, for those of you from other countries, do you have a Groundhog Day? As always, if you enjoyed this vintage Phil Factor feel free to share it via the social media buttons below. Come back Saturday for a brand new Phil Factor. Have a great Friday!  ~Phil

Ten George Santos Lies You Haven’t Heard…Yet

10. I let the dogs out. Growing up in The Bahamas I was neighbors with the Baja Men. I saw their dogs in a fenced-in backyard. They were so cute. I wanted to pet them, so I let them out.

Picture credit: Long Island Press

9.I was the original Harry Potter. I played Harry in the first two movies, but then they said I was too tall for the part and they brought in that Radcliffe hack.

Santos claims he gave this cake to his buddy “Zuck” as he allegedly called him

8. “In college at Harvard I invented social media by creating the website MyFace. My two buddies Mark Zuckerberg and some dude named Tom ripped me off and made their own sites.” When asked to comment by The Phil Factor, Mark Zuckerberg said, “Who?” It’s not clear if he was referring to George Santos or The Phil Factor.

7.I helped catch Bin Laden. Spring Break 2011, me & my buddies were hiking in Afghanistan. B.T. dubs, those Afghan chicks are hot. They look so mysterious behind their burqas. Anywho, in the mountains I came across a Taco Bell wrapper. Then another and another leading to a cave where this bearded guy in a turban was finishing a 32 oz Baha Blast Mountain Dew by the fire. We kept our heads down and kept going. I called that in as soon as we got back to the hotel.

Sorry Pete. I didn’t drag you into this. It was all George.

6.I’m dating Pete Davidson and I don’t care who knows it. He makes me feel like a man.

5.When Kanye ran up on stage and took the mic from Taylor Swift, I put him up to it. I was going to do it myself, but you know how Ye is.”

FILE PHOTO: Reuters

4. The Jan.6 ransacking wasn’t Trump’s fault, it was mine. Honestly, Trump’s speech was a snoozer, so I told the crowd that the House of Representatives were going to party after the vote count and we should just crash it as a way of welcoming Biden. And by the way, I was the first one wearing that big buffalo hat. Then these jerks took it away and started trying it on. Jerks!” (tries to stifle tears)

3. My blog has existed longer than Phil’s. He thinks 18 years is impressive, but I invented blogs in 2004.”

2. I’m not dating Exotic Joe from Netflix’s Tiger King series ever again.

If you sign up for a free trial with Audible, you can get this book free. Also you can listen to my book Time To Lie on Audible. It’s much better than Spare.

1. Meghan Markle dated me before she found Harry. That’s what his book Spare is about. He realized that she is still pining for me. Honestly, they both are.” 

Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction. This may have been a parody. Have a great Friday!  ~Phil

Is New Year’s Eve The Worst Holiday Ever?

Is New Year’s Eve the worst holiday ever? Or am I the biggest New Year’s Eve Grinch in the world? I can honestly say that I don’t think I’ve ever had a great New Year’s Eve. Do any of you feel that way?

By the way, is New Year’s Eve the holiday or is it New Year’s Day? Or is it a two day holiday? If we can’t define it, obviously it isn’t a great holiday.

If I go to a New Year’s Eve party, this will be the one. So,  Miley Cyrus and Pete Davidson, send that chopper to my house tomorrow and I’ll be there by midnight. Imagine if it was actually a party with Miley, Pete, and other assorted celebrities of their ilk rather than a tv show? That would be a fun party. So, if there’s an afterparty, that’s where I want to be, surrounded by ilk. I’m going nowhere for New Year’s Eve, but for some reason, the universe nudged me to buy a New Year’s Eve tie  this year. If that’s not a sign that Miley and Pete are sending a limo to fetch me, then I don’t know what is.

My New Year’s Eve tie

If the universe’s plan to get me to that party is going to work I think I need all of you to tweet, IG, Facebook, and TikTok this blog post until it reaches Pete and Miley. Hit those little buttons at the bottom of this. Speaking of Pete Davidson and Miley Cyrus, who thinks that we’re going to hear about them dating any day now. If that’s not a celebrity couple made in heaven, I don’t know who is.

Pic from Fodors.com

In many Spanish speaking countries like Mexico and Brazil, the color of the underwear you wear on New Year’s Day is believed to determine what kind of year you’ll have. Tradition is that red brings love and yellow leads to wealth and success. White predicts peace and harmony, while green portends well-being and nature. Yikes! What kind of year will you have if your undies have skid marks? I think the answer to that is pretty obvious. I didn’t want to think of that either, but I know you were all thinking it too. So this year I’ll I’ll wear red and my new tie. That’s it. Just those two things.

So help me out here. In the comments, I’d love to know how you feel about New Year’s Eve 2023 and what are your best and worst New Year’s Eve stories from the past. C’mon, don’t just click “like”!

Happy New Year! ~Phil

It Wasn’t the End of The World as We Know It…

The paragraph below is from my “End of The World” post that I wrote in 2009 and scheduled to go live on my blog the day after the world was supposed to end in 2012.

See? I told you so! I wrote this post on Oct. 13, 2009 and dated it to be released to the blog on Dec. 22, 2012, the day after the Mayan calendar ended and the world was supposed to end. If you’re reading this post, apparently that didn’t happen. So suck on that you Mayan calendar nutjobs.

As always, Psychic Phil got this one right. Stay tuned for my 2023 psychic predictions coming up on Tuesday December 26th! If there is anything that you’d like a psychic prediction about, put your question in the comments.

Psychically yours, Phil 

The Ten Best Holiday Specials of All Time!

If I didn’t get your favorite on the list, in the comments tell me what I’ve been missing! And no, this years Mariah Carey special is not on the list. When I was growing up, watching the holiday specials was well.. special. They were only on once a year and weren’t available on streaming services. If you’re from another country, I’d like to make this an international list. Please leave me the name or link to your favorite holiday specials.

Seven years ago a network aired “It’s Your 50th Christmas Charlie Brown!” To be sure, the Peanuts Christmas special is a classic here in the States. What I’d like to see someone create is a special with all the Peanuts characters as 50 year olds. How weird would that be? Below are my choices for the Ten Best Holiday Specials of All Time. The Star Wars Holiday Special was mentioned in the comments a few times last year, but didn’t make the Top Ten only because I haven’t seen it. If you’re curious, it is on YouTube.  If you disagree with the list or have other choices please put them in the comments.

10. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving: Sure the idea of toast and popcorn sounds great, in theory. This is a good special but pales in comparison to The Peanut’s Halloween and Christmas specials.

Frosty

9. Frosty the Snowman: The best part of this special is the song. The acting is putrid and the plot is barely plausible. When this is on I’m rooting for a green Christmas.

Drummer

8. Little Drummer Boy: This is where the list starts to get good. Good song, good plot, great claymation and I think there are some talking animals. Plus, it all takes place in a desert where Frosty would never survive.

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6. Santa Clause is Comin’ To Town: Oh man! When I was a kid and the Winter Warlock first appeared I was terrified. I believe the phrase “chillin’ like a villain” was coined for him. Also a young Santa hooks up with a serious hottie of a wife.

5. It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown! 

This is a tough one to beat, but it’s hard to dethrone Christmas and Hanukkah.

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5. The Rugrats Chanukah Special: Technically it was an episode of the series, but all these years later I still remember it for actually explaining the meaning of Hanukkah to me better than any person ever had. It was entertaining and informative, just like The Phil Factor.

4. A Charlie Brown Christmas: Hey, I know you all love this one, but if The Peanuts get on the list twice they don’t get #1. The ice skating scene, the dancing scene, and Snoopy making the animal noises were all great. Lucy still should have punched Charlie Brown for bringing back that wretched tree.

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3. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer: Romance, bromance, career conflict, monsters, The Island of Misfit Toys. This special had it all. Remember how scary it was when Yukon Cornelius rescued Rudolph and his family from Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster?

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2. Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas: Great song and great villian with a story of redemption. Who doesn’t love it when his heart grows and breaks the frame? My favorite scene is when his dog, Max, happily hops on the front of the sleigh expecting a ride.

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1. The Year Without a Santa Clause: This special didn’t need a Santa Claus. If you’ve got the Heat Miser and the Snow Miser in a sing off you win. I just wish one of them had done a mic drop. Hands down the best songs ever in a holiday special of any kind. Here’s the video of both songs. (please pardon the commercial at the start). Enjoy!

So which ones of those would you rank higher? Did I miss your favorite? Please tell me in the comments! Have a great day! ~Phil

My Life Long Friend Judy Izzum

That pic above is the kind of information I didn’t have as a kid. I grew up as a Catholic kid in a middle class neighborhood in upstate New York. So, you would think that if I’m in New York there would be a lot of Jewish people around. You are sadly mistaken.

New York is a pretty big state. There’s upstate and downstate.  Downstate is New York City, Long Island and a couple counties just north of New York City. That whole area is a five hour drive from where I live. The downstate area is filled with many unique, wonderful cultures, and the Jewish community is one of them. The upstate part of New York is more homogenized, although there are some quirky cultural things going on in different places.

This one is available on Amazon

When I grew up, I didn’t think that I knew anyone that was Jewish. I was sheltered.  My Irish Catholic mother was too busy training me to be the next Pope. It wasn’t until I went away to college at 17 that I really discovered the Jewish religion. Many of my college friends were from downstate and chose to go to college upstate.

For me it was fun learning about the Jewish religion from my friends, and I was thrilled one year when my friend gave me a dreidel and taught me the song: “Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel, I made it out of clay, and when it’s dried and ready, oh dreidel we will play.” Thank you my college friend Gary. That song has been in my head every December since we met.

After having many Jewish friends in college and learning what surnames were most likely to be Jewish, I realized that I had had Jewish friends my entire life and just didn’t know it.

As an adult I’ve always craved learning about other cultures and religions because I felt like I grew up very generically.  Go watch That 70’s show. I think the parents in that show were modeled after my parents. In the picture below, I was most likely to be Eric (actor Topher Grace) in the top right.

At the end of the day though, there’s almost really no difference between religions and the people that practice them. Every religion has different repetitive, quirky traditions and every religion in  the world is based on the “magic guy in the sky” premise, so who cares if someone wears a different hat or says a different prayer? At 17 I thought my Jewish friends were this new and interesting novelty when it turned out that I had Jewish friends my whole life.

If I was Jewish, this would be me every December

During the holiday season when Hanukkah and Christmas overlap, it feels like Hanukah doesn’t get the big publicity that Christmas does, and that’s a shame because they have 8 days of one holiday. If that’s not an excuse to day drink, I don’t know what is. Anyway, I just want to say Happy Hanukkah to all the Jewish friends that I’ve had in my life, even the ones that I didn’t know were Jewish. Now that they know I know, I hope they don’t expect eight presents times the number of years that I didn’t know they were Jewish.

If I could ask my Jewish friends one favor it is this: Could you decide on one spelling of your holiday?

Shalom and Happy Chanukah my friends~ Phil

Ten Weird Holiday Traditions From Around The World

My first baby picture! (pic credit to https://www.artstation.com/yoneyu )

Not everybody celebrates the holidays just like you do. One of the ten traditions in the list is made up by me. See if you can guess which one is the fake and put your guess in the comments.

Ten Weird Holiday Traditions From Around the World

10. South Africa: In South Africa deep fried caterpillars are the traditional holiday meal. Who knows why? Maybe they believe that eating caterpillars symbolically will make their life turn into a butterfly or some such nonsense. Or maybe caterpillars are just really tasty. Who are we kidding? Anything deep fried IS really tasty.

sundried-emperor-moth-caterpillars-photo-credit-gizmag

9. Norway: Maybe my blogging friend Maja Asgautsen from Norway can tell me if this is accurate. According to what I read in the internet, in Norway it’s traditional not to do any cleaning on Christmas Eve and all brooms are put away. Sounds like Norwegian Christmas Eve happens at my house several days every week.

8. Caracas, Venezuela: Residents of this one town, Caracas, go to Christmas Eve mass on roller skates.

this-one-caracas

7. Germany: In Germany they hide a pickle in the Christmas tree and the first child to find it gets a small gift. I would bet that in German bars around the holidays  “Hey gorgeous, how would you like to play hide the pickle?” is an overused, and probably unsuccessful pick up line.

6. Ukraine: In the Ukraine, instead of tinsel and lights they decorate their Christmas trees with fake spider webs and spiders. Apparently they watch The Nightmare Before Christmas  a little too often.

5. China: In China families bring their pets, dogs, cats, and birds to a special mass on Christmas Eve to have them blessed. In Chinese culture it is believed that animals are more susceptible to demonic possession and the ceremony is thought to “cleanse” them for the coming year.  That is why most households have a “lucky cat” statue to ward off evil spirits.

lucky-chinese-cat-27637011

4. Estonia: Families go to the sauna together. I’m cool with going to the sauna, but with my family? Ugh.

3. Great Britain: Tradition dictates that each member of the family must stir the Christmas pudding in a clockwise direction and make a wish. Reportedly 90% of wishes are “I wish is wasn’t cold and rainy.”

funny-picture-weather-in-england

2. Guatemala: They sweep out their houses on Christmas Eve, with brooms they borrowed from the Norwegianscreating a pile of dirt in front of their home. Then they burn an effigy of the devil on top. Geez, Guatemala, lighten up, it’s Christmas! It’s supposed to be fun.

1. Greece: In a twisted version of Elf on the Shelf, the Greeks tell their children that the Kallikantzaroi, a race of evil goblins that live undergroundcome to the surface to wreak havoc during the twelve days of Christmas. Nice, parenting by terror. What’s more traditional than that?

Well, one of those ten is a completely fake. Which one do you think it is? Have a great Tuesday! ~Phil

Ten Ways “It’s A Wonderful Life” Could Have Been Better

I wonder if Kanye (Ye) is on to something? Is it possible that the quintessential, iconic American Christmas movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, could have, should have been better? I say yes, and here are ten things George would have done if he were a morally questionable protagonist.

10. George should have punched Sam Wainwright: The first time that dolt popped up and said “Hee haw!” George should have punched him in the throat. Then he should have done it every other time until Sam learned to shut the hell up.

9. Violet: ‘Nuff said.

8. Mr. Gower: George could have been a wealthy young man had he chosen to blackmail Pharmacist Gower over almost killing that kid by putting the wrong meds in the bottle. Especially after Mr. Gower hit him on his bad ear. A little hush money never hurt anybody.

"If you don't stop saying stupid stuff I'll throw you out of this bar myself"

“If you don’t stop saying stupid stuff I’ll throw you out of this bar myself”

7. George should have left Clarence the Angel in  the river: If that were my guardian angel, I might choose not to go to Heaven if I have to hang out with him for all eternity.

6. George should have thrown a rock at the neighbor who told him to shut up and kiss Mary.

"I'm going to throw a rock at him"

“I’m going to throw a rock at him”

5. George should have been arrested by the town cop first for throwing the rock at the neighbor (see #6) and for vandalizing the house.

4. George shouldn’t have given Mary the robe back when she was in the hydrangea bush. (bow chicka bow wow!)

3. George should have pulled his brothers fiance’ aside and told her that his brother Harry is a big cheater and he would leave her, just like he did his other wives. Then heartbroken Harry takes over the Building & Loan and George goes to college.

2. He should have taken that job  that Potter offered him! Adjusted for inflation, that was the equivalent of a six figure salary nowadays. Btw, if you weren’t aware, the actor that played Mr. Potter is Drew Barrymore’s great uncle.

it-s-a-wonderful-life-thomas-mitchell-james-stewart-1946

1. Throw Billy under the bus: No, not literally. But when Uncle Billy lost that $8000 I would have ratted him out to the police in about two seconds.

So , what do you think? How about a modern re-make with a realistic George Bailey? The guy was miserable almost constantly until they had a nice party and bailed him out at the end. What happens after that party? Clarence gets his friggin’ wings but George is stuck going back to the life he was already so miserable in. Would other changes would you make to It’s a Wonderful Life? ~Phil

Worst Superhero Ever

To fanfare that existed only in his mind, former President Donald Trump released his own limited edition NFT’s this past week. NFT’s mean Non-Fungible Token. It’s basically a picture, artwork, or collectible item made into a digital image and has a limit on how many people can own it. It’s a ridiculous notion when you can find the pictures online everywhere. Yes, they say Trump’s NFT’s “sold out”, but who knows how many were actually licensed and sold and to whom. I’d be curious to know if the Trump Corporation has a line in their ledger book that now says “NFT’s—$4m”.

Although I sometimes talk as if I’m an expert on everything, in a few areas I do know some things about some things. I have a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology.  (No, I didn’t get my PhD, and that’s the biggest regret in my life.) One thing that I did study intensely in grad school was narcissism. I did a couple kick-ass papers on  narcissism and I think I have a pretty good grip on the diagnostic meaning.

I don’t want this to be a political piece. I don’t care what political party anyone is a part of as long as they have the best interests of the American people and the world at the core of their motivation to run for office.

According to theravive.com and the American Psychiatric Association these are the qualifying symptoms of a Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD):

“The definition of NPD states that it comprises of a persistent manner of grandiosity, a continuous desire for admiration, along with a lack of empathy. It starts by early adulthood and occurs in a range of situations, as signified by the existence of any 5 of the next 9 standards (American Psychiatric Association, 2013):

  • A grandiose logic of self-importance
  • A fixation with fantasies of infinite success, control, brilliance, beauty, or idyllic love
  • A credence that he or she is extraordinary and exceptional and can only be understood by, or should connect with, other extraordinary or important people or institutions
  • A desire for unwarranted admiration
  • A sense of entitlement
  • Interpersonally oppressive behavior
  • No form of empathy
  • Resentment of others or a conviction that others are resentful of him or her
  • A display of egotistical and conceited behaviors or attitudes”

Do any of those symptoms fit someone that we’re familiar with? One thing I learned about Narcissistic Personality Disorder is that the narcissist is looking for a ‘perfect mirror’. He or she wants to be surrounded by people who confirm what the narcissist wants to believe about themselves. Hmm.., what do these pictures tell us about how Donald Trump wants to be seen? He wants to be seen as a hero doesn’t he? Whether it was the crowd that attended his rally before storming to capitol or the sycophants who purchased these cartoon pictures of Trump, they reinforced his delusional beliefs. He actually sees himself as the larger than life heroes that he hired someone to create.

By the standards of the American Psychiatric Association, he has a mental illness. Having a mental illness however doesn’t disqualify a person from being an excellent public servant, but an untreated mental illness rarely resolves on it’s own and usually gets progressively worse. If Donald Trump is truly as awesome as the fictional heroes that he imagines  himself to be, great, let him run the country. If he is a mentally ill person that refuses treatment, then get him a psychiatrist before he gets worse.

Sorry for the serious topic. I thought some might find it interesting. Thanks for reading. ~Phil