Category Archives: pop culture

It’s The Great Pumpkin Spice Latte Charlie Brown

I was also going to name this “A Pumpkin Flavored Phil Factor”. It’s that time of year, again. Sigh.  It has begun. Pumpkin flavored everything is back in stores! WTH? Seriously, are pumpkins such a wonderful delicacy that we have to flavor EVERYTHING with them? Why pumpkin? Is there any other time of year where a flavor takes over the country for a couple months? Around the winter holidays why isn’t there nog flavored everything? Around St. Patrick’s Day we’ve got our Shamrock Shakes, but that’s about it. How about this? I’m going to give you a list of ten pumpkin flavored items below and you try to guess which one isn’t real.

1. Coffee

2. Beer

3. Donuts

4. Candy

5. Soda pop

6. Potato chips

7. Pasta

8. Cookies

9.  Vodka

10. Smoothies

Guess what? They all are real! That’s too much pumpkin flavored stuff. What’s next, pumpkin-flavored fish sandwiches at McDonald’s? This time of year it’s actually an effort not to accidentally eat something pumpkin flavored. This madness must end!  When I’m elected President, or Sexiest Man Alive, whichever comes first, I’m going to pass a law stating that any company that produces a pumpkin flavored food item has to have it approved through a special sub-committee and if it is just too stupid of an idea they will not be allowed to sell it. If you know of any other odd pumpkin flavored foods or drinks please share them in a comment.

As always, if you enjoy what you read at #ThePhilFactor and want to support my bid for President, or Sexiest Man Alive, please hit the Facebook or Twitter share buttons.

Welcome to Phil’s NyQuil Chicken Restaurant!

NyQuil Chicken

(This is a proactive disclaimer for those who take everything waaay to seriously: This entire blog post is a joke. I am probably not seriously suggesting you do anything I say here. You’re an adult. Think for yourself.)

Does anyone remember my post from four years ago about snorting Tide Pods? This has an eerie familiarity. Yes, TikTok, the arbiter of all things cool, has brought us the NyQuil chicken challenge!  At first I wondered if bored farmers were giving their chickens NyQuil and then watched them fall asleep. Knowing famers, I was a little worried what they might do to those chickens after they fell asleep. But no, there are no victims.

People are making chicken with NyQuil and it puts them to sleep. You know what else it does? It makes people feel better when they have a cold or flu! Is that so bad? I don’t think so, which is why I’m going to open a restaurant where I serve many popular dishes with different medications mixed in.

What could be better than that when you’re sick? Go to a restaurant feeling lousy, have your favorite meal and you feel better later? It’s like a Walgreens Pharmacy and Red Lobster had a baby!

The Medicine Restaurant and Bar in Birmingham, England

Come in. Let me take you to your table. Have a seat. I will need your medical history before you order. We don’t want any of those pesky allergic reactions. Take a look at the menu:

All pictures are not mine and were “borrowed” from better websites than mine.

NyQuil Chicken: A beautiful chicken breast grilled with olive oil, Mediterranean spices and NyQuil. Guaranteed to satisfy your palate, relieve cold symptoms and help you get a good nights sleep.

Ritalin Redfish

Ritalin Redfish Cajun Style: Enjoy this savory sea treat with cajun spices that will wake up your tongue while the Ritalin wakes up your brain. Please consult your physician before finishing your appetizer.

Anxiety Alfredo

Anxiety Alfredo: Feeling a little anxious or over-stressed? Nothing calms my mind more than a bowl of pasta, especially when it has a little something extra soothing for your nerves. Feeling a little too gonzo? Maybe you need a little benzo. It’s what gives our alfredo that silky smooth aftertaste.

Tepezza Taco Tuesday: Problems with your thyroid? Are you’re eyes looking a little too big? Then stop by for Tepezza Taco Tuesday! If you’ve got two eyes you get two tacos for the price of one! (Tepezza did not give me consent to use the name of their medication.)

I’m just getting started. Wait until you see the drink menu. You don’t need to tip our waitresses but please pay your copay on the way out.

Anywho, it’s up to you if you add meds to your food, but please consult your physician and don’t take me seriously.

Have a great Thursday! ~Phil

In Honor of the Queen

You may think I’m funny here occasionally, but apparently Queen Elizabeth was renown for her sense of humor. In a way, she and I were a match made in heaven. She was English and Scottish, and I’m of English and Scottish descent as well. And most importantly, we appreciate a good joke. That’s why I think that she would have enjoyed The Phil Factor. Who knows, she may have. My blog was once mentioned during an English bloggers interview on a radio show in the second largest city in England.

Pic courtesy of Stuff.co.nz

Aside from our shared love of humor, Queen Elizabeth made many appearances on The Phil Factor over the years. Her first mention on this blog was in the post The Poop at Home People The fact that I didn’t hear any complaints from the Queen mum told me that she liked the attention she received from being on The Phil Factor.

She appeared again on The Phil Factor about a year and a half later in the post titled Brexit Stage Leftwhere I also joined her in this picture:

She found this quite funny. Her next appearance on #ThePhilFactor, was in one of the all time most popular Phil Factor posts titled: Who Wants Celebrity Nipples? I thought that might offend her, and was fearful of “disappearing” after a visit from Scotland Yard. But, I’m still here, so again, I assume that she enjoyed her growing notoriety in the blogosphere.

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Another classic Queen Mum appearance came in my post If I Was The Royal Wedding Planner when Meghan and Harry got married four years ago. Seriously Liz, I apologize for the critique of your lime green outfit, but c’mon! You’re the effing Queen. Lime green is not a royal color.

Lovely Liz, as I call her, appeared on The Phil Factor again in March of 2019 in the post The Queen is Drunk Right Now . And you’re damn right that she liked a few cocktails every single day. She was the Queen, or the big Q as her friends called her. Four gin and tonics a day. Every. Single. Day.  The old gal could hold her liquor better than I could.

Thank you to reader Kim Steward for alerting me to THIS VIDEO from Huffpost that features her longtime security guard telling a very funny story about Queen Elizabeth meeting some Americans who did know who she was.

In my December 2020 Psychic Predictions for 2021 I speculated that Queen Liz was an alien who would live forever. Unfortunately, I was wrong on that one. I love the picture above this paragraph because it’s Queen Elizabeth laughing. She was crowned Queen of England at age 25 when her father, the king, passed away. I imagine that the crown felt particularly heavy on her young head, and yet for the next 70 years she was the epitome of grace and the symbol of a nation. In spite of that weight, or maybe because of it, she liked a good laugh. If I could I’d raise my glass, with gin and tonic, and toast her life. Thank you Elizabeth, you made the world a better place.

~Phil

Are You An Upside-Down Pineapple?

So last Friday I posted this picture of myself on social media. Every Friday this summer I’m posting a pick of myself in a Hawaiian shirt. I have quite a collection.

But the picture above garnered more comments and attention than my usual Hawaiian shirt pictures. I bet that some of you know why. I didn’t and was surprised why this shirt caught peoples attention. About 60% of the pineapples on the shirt are upside down. I thought that was odd, but just figured that Old Navy was getting rid of some misprint shirts cheap. I was very naïve for thinking that.

Traditionally the pineapple is a symbol of welcoming. Flags and signs like the one above can be seen all over the world indicating welcome and friendship. Apparently some people use the upside down pineapple as a symbol of being really, really friendly.

As it turns out, the upside down pineapple when displayed on your clothing or as a decoration on your house indicates that you’re a swinger! According to google, the informal definition of the word swinger is “a person who engages in group sex or the swapping of sexual partners.” 

Now all those pineapple upside down cakes that my mom used to make suddenly seem very suspicious. That could explain why us kids had to go to bed when they invited the neighbors over for parties in the basement. Now I’m wondering if our basement was a secret sex dungeon. I’m also wondering if Old Navy is really a swingers cult. When does the deception end? Is my dad really my dad, or was it my next door neighbor? Now that I’ve worn the shirt, am I a swinger? Is someone swinging with me right now?!!?

When the weather turns cold I’m getting this sweatshirt

Suddenly thanks to one of my favorite fruits, my whole life is a lie. If you want to read a little more about swinger symbols so you can either encourage or avoid attention read this fun article from Men’s Health magazine. And if you are an upside down pineapple, well, you already know what to do!  ; )

Have a great day! ~Phil

My Snap Judgement Oscar Awards & Psychic Predictions

Many of you are familiar with my previous Snap Judgement Oscar Awards where I give out my own Oscar Awards to the movies, actors, and actresses that I think really deserve the awards. I’m still going to do that, but this year, I’m adding a twist. I’m going to use my psychic talents. After telling you who I think really deserves the award based on my own idiotic reasoning, I will use my psychic powers to predict who I think the Academy will give their awards to. I’m only going to choose three in each category just to shorten this up. Without further adieu…

Top 3 Best Supporting Actress Nominees: Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog; Judi Dench, Belfast; Ariana DeBose, West Side Story. The winner of my Snap Judgement Oscar Award is Kirsten Dunst for her work in the 2002 movie Spider-Man. She never got the credit she deserves for being the first to play Spider-Man’s girlfriend, Mary Jane Watson. Honestly, Tobey Maguire dragged that film down and Kirsten Dunst’s Oscar chances with it. My psychic prediction for the 2022 Oscar for Best Supporting Actress: Ariana DeBose in West Side Story.

Top 3 Best Supporting Actor Nominees: Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog; J.K. Simmons, Being the Ricardos; Troy Kotsur, Coda. The Phil Factor choice for this years Snap Judgement Best Supporting Actor Award goes to J.K. Simmons for his role as J. Jonah Jameson in the 2002 epic Spider-Man. If not for Tobey Maguire, he would have gotten that 2002 Oscar. In my world, if J.K. Simmons wants an Oscar, J.K. Simmons gets an Oscar. My psychic prediction for who the Academy will choose as Best Supporting Actor: Troy Kotsur for Coda.

Top 3 Best Actress Nominees: Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye;  Kristen Stewart, Spencer; Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos. Although Jessica Chastain has made the transition from women’s soccer to acting, she won’t be the choice for Best Actress. My personal choice for The Phil Factor Snap Judgement Oscar Award for Best Actress is Kristen Stewart because she was smart enough to break up with Robert Pattinson, the worst Batman ever. Unfortunately for Kristen, my big psychic noggin says that the Best Actress Oscar goes to Nicole Kidman for her work overcoming the dead weight that was Tobey Maguire Val Kilmer in Batman Forever in 1995. It may not be Spider-Man, but it’s close enough.

Top 3 Best Actor Nominees: Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog; Will Smith, King Richard; Andrew Garfield, Tick, Tick…Boom!. Woo! This category is loaded this year. The Snap Judgement Oscar Award es to Andrew Garfield for his role in Spider-Man: No Way Home in which he shined despite the presence of Oscar killer Tobey Maguire. Despite my Spider-Man love, my psychic prediction for Best Actor is Will Smith for King Richard and because we all still remember when Fresh Prince Will and Carlton did that dope dance number to Apache by the Sugarhill Gang.

This combination of photos shows promotional art for the films nominated for an Oscar for best picture, (Focus Features/Apple TV+, Netflix, Janus Films & Sideshow, Warner Bros. Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures, Searchlight Pictures, Netflix, 20th Century Films via AP)

Top 3 Best Picture Nominees (I have seen none of these movies):

The Power of the Dog: A Western based on a 1967 novel by Thomas Savage with the same title. It’s got a great cast and won a bunch of awards, but a Western?!!? I’m falling asleep just writing this paragraph about it.

Belfast: A movie about a boy growing up during a sort of civil war in Northern Ireland in 1969. If they could have made this about a boy growing up in war torn Ukraine, they’d have that Oscar in the bag already.

CODA: If you’re not familiar, CODA stands for Children Of Deaf Adults. This film is about a young girl trying to balance her desire to help her family’s struggling fishing business while pursuing her dream of going to college for singing. Yes, singing, not signing.

My  Snap Judgement Oscar Award for Best Picture goes to…Licorice Pizzaanother Best Picture nominee that is a sentimental, coming of age comedy/drama. I’m a sucker for coming of age comedies because, let’s face it, don’t we all identify with those movies?

My psychic prediction for the winner of the 2022 Oscar Award is The Power of the Dog, starring Benedict Cumberbatch who played the role of Dr. Strange in the December released movie Spider-Man: No Way Home

There you go. That’s all you need to know about the Oscars, including who will win. If I’m right on every one of these, you’ll never hear the end of it.

Have a great weekend! ~Phil

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! My Interview w/ Black 47’s Larry Kirwan!

The year was 2000 and I was in an Irish store in Stowe, Vermont. As I browsed the genuine Irish knick-knacks there was music playing overhead that immediately resonated in my heart and my head. I am half-Irish. I asked the cashier if she knew whose music it was. She replied, “Of course. We have it right here,” as she handed me Black 47‘s Live in New York City CD. At the time, since The Phil Factor didn’t exist yet, little did I know that 15 years later I would get to interview lead singer Larry Kirwan. Below is that interview.

Click the Youtube video to hear some of their amazing music. Every song sounds like you’re at a party in a crowded Irish pub.

(Oct. 26, 2015) Although the band called it quits on their own terms in 2014, frontman Larry Kirwan has remained extremely busy. Considering that he writes books and plays, writes for The Irish Echo, hosts a weekly Celtic music show on SiriusXm radio, and performs solo gigs (his new single Floating dropped last week), I was happily surprised when Larry replied to my email.

Me: Growing up in Ireland, who were your musical influences?

Larry: They were legion.  Though it was a small town, Wexford had its own Opera Festival.  Many people emigrated to London and brought back whatever was happening in music.  Rockabilly artists like Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent were popular with the local Teddyboys and you could hear their reverb-drenched songs pumping from the town’s only jukebox.  As well as that there was a strong tradition of Folk Music that I loved.  And to top it all, my father was a merchant marine who loved Calypso and Tango music.  I imbibed it all.  But everything came together when I first heard Bob Dylan’s Like A Rolling Stone.  Astral Weeks by Van Morrison was also deeply influential – probably still is.

Me: From your books and music, your love of New York City is apparent. Was there ever a time you considered returning to Ireland for good?

Larry: No, I never did.  I knew from the first minute I arrived on my own with just $100 in my pocket that I wouldn’t be going home.  I was illegal for 3 years and couldn’t go back and by then, after living in the depths of the East Village, it was way too late.

TPF: When you and Chris Byrne started Black 47 in 1989 did you imagine that the band would become as popular as it did? 

Larry: Our first thoughts were staying alive or at least not getting the shit beat out of us.  The Bronx bars we played in were rough – we were playing loud and provocatively – so we weren’t very popular, to say the least.   We weren’t very good either.  But four sets a night, is great practice.  And there was a shortage of bands, so we could do four nights a week no trouble. We were committed to playing original music in places that just wanted cover songs. After a year, though, I knew we had something different – and that’s always the most important thing.  Besides that, we were both naturally very political – and that seems to give you a bit of a cachet.  I don’t think we ever thought about popularity that much.  We were a band doing what it wanted to do – that might seem old fashioned now, but to us it was pretty much everything.

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Me: You’ve also written several books and plays. What was your first love, writing or music? Or did one lead to the other?

Larry: I was an early reader and read voraciously through much of my life.  I always thought I’d be a writer of some sort but I put it off for a long time.  Meanwhile, I was in love with music so I got into songwriting and performing.  I wrote a novel in my early 20’s that wasn’t very good, although I remember certain scenes fondly.  But playwriting got me really into writing.  I had a small talent for dialogue that made it easy to get a start.  Then I had a very minor hit with my second play, Liverpool Fantasy, and that gave me confidence.   I’m up here in Toronto at a workshop of a musical of mine, still coming to terms with that.

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You probably have a better idea of what I’ve done with songwriting.  Being a member of Black 47 was such a great outlet for me.  We always needed new songs and the 25 years went by in a blur.  We rarely performed more than 6 songs from an album of 12 so I’m getting re-acquainted with some Black 47 songs right now as a solo performer.  It’s interesting stripping them back into their original form and finding the soul of them.

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It’s a little odd.  When I get an idea now I can transform it into a song, a play, or a novel pretty effortlessly, whereas when I began dabbling in all three disciplines, I always knew which of them the idea would slot into.  A blessing or a curse?  I guess I’ll find out as I go along.

Me: I’ll look forward to your next novel and I’ll be sure to feature it here. You’re still performing solo gigs and it’s been almost a year since the band stopped performing. Are there any plans for any more occasional Black 47 shows?

Larry: I don’t see there being any more Black 47 shows.  It was a moment in time – 25 years of a moment.  I miss the guys a lot – we were brothers – not just the members of the band but the crew members too.  But then, I suppose, Black 47 was always more than a band.  We were political, and did things our way, never looked for approval.  We were probably closer to our fans than any band and yet we always played just for ourselves. I prefer to keep it that way.  Onwards and upwards and look back with pride.

TPF: Larry, as a long time fan of Black 47 I’d like to say thank you to you, the rest of the band and crew for the 25 years of great music. I look forward to hearing more of your solo work and reading your novel. Also, thank you for taking time from your busy schedule for me and my readers. For readers and fans who want to keep up with Larry, you can find him on Facebook, at his blog  and on Sirius XM radio hosting the Celtic Crush show on Sunday mornings. His solo music and Black 47 albums are available in stores and all the online outlets. You can find his books on Amazon, other online retailers and in bookstores.

Have a great Thursday! ~Phil

Dump ‘Em: How To Break Up With Anyone by Jodyne Speyer

This is a classic interview from 2013 that was very popular, and I think this book is still perfect for so many reasons.

“Hi Jodyne and welcome to The Phil Factor. Thank you for taking a few minutes to answer some questions for my readers about your book Dump ’em: How to Break Up with Anyone from Your Best Friend to Your Hairdresser.

Jodyne: My pleasure and might I just say what a lovely first name you have. I’m lucky enough to have two dads and both of them are named Philip, although one of them goes by his middle name, Donald.

Dump'Em

TPF: Well, thank you.  Although I can’t take credit for picking my name I have become rather fond of it. So, what was the impetus for your decision to write Dump ‘em?

Jodyne:  Like most people, I was terrible at ending any kind of relationship: cleaning ladies, dentists, hairdressers, friends, etc. I avoided those people I was too scared to dump like the plague. Unfortunately as the toll of people I was avoiding went up, so did my chances of running into them when least expected; like the checkout lane at CVS, the movies or my favorite restaurant. I was once cornered in Barney’s in New York City and forced to explain why I didn’t go back to see a former hairdresser that I really cared about, who just stopped cutting my hair evenly. It was awful running into her because at that point I had avoided her calls for a few months and here I was standing in front of her with a new hair cut. I didn’t want to lie, but my first reaction was to make up excuses and I just felt awful. She didn’t deserve that. She deserved the truth. I left that day with the clear intention of not wanting to be that person anymore, too scared to nip something in the bud when it came up. So I figured I would go to Borders (R.I.P) bookstore and find a book that would teach me how to politely dump people. When I discovered there was no such book, I decided it was time to teach myself, so I started gathering information and interviewing different people, both professional and personal. The more people I talked to, the more I got the consistent feedback that I should write a book. When enough people tell you that you should do something, you listen.

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TPF: Was your intent for the book to be a therapeutic book that’s funny or funny book that turned out to have some therapeutic value?

Jodyne: Good question. I wanted the book to be both. I think everyone of us has struggled at some point with having to dump someone, and many of those stories are funny.  Some not so funny, but at the very least relatable, so  my intent was to share my personal stories,  but at the end of the day make sure to include practical tips and tools so my reader would know how to do it in their own life.  I genuinely wanted to share what I learned because I knew there were a lot of people out there in the world, like me who were looking for a kind and respectful way to end relationships.

TPF: Dump ‘em isn’t just about ending romantic relationships but relationships with anyone from your …ahem…manicurist/waxer to a neighbor to friends.  In your personal life, whom have you found is most difficult for you to dump and why?

Jodyne: Personally, I find friendships the most difficult to end, because unlike romantic relationships which we enter into knowing there’s a good chance things won’t work out, with friends we go into it thinking they’ll be there for the long run.  But like any relationship, sometimes they run their course. The problem is that sometimes only one person feels that the friendship has run its course. I’ve had friendships where the other person expects more from me than I am able to give, and not every friend  understands that.  When I was younger I had a number of toxic friendships; people that spoke disrespectfully towards me or who drained me emotionally and physically. I tried unsuccessfully in the past to to dump a lot of them, but most of them had such strong personalities that they wouldn’t let me! After researching and writing Dump ‘Em I learned how to dump those toxic relationships. I learned that not every break up has to be done in person, that sometimes the best way to end a relationship is write a solidly constructed letter.

TPF: You interviewed quite a list of luminaries for this book including Kato Kaelin, your sister Sarah Silverman, trainer Bob Harper of The Biggest Loser, Adam Corolla, and several professional experts. Of all those people, who surprised you and what did they say that you weren’t expecting?

Jodyne: Kato Kaelin surprised me the most. I knew I wanted to write a chapter about how to dump a houseguest since I used to live in New York City and I had never before had I been as popular as when I had my apartment in Soho. I had people I hadn’t seen since 2nd grade show up at my door hoping for a place to crash. Oddly since moving to Los Angeles, I haven’t had that problem, but I knew as soon as I decided to write the chapter on how to ask a houseguest to leave that I wanted to interview Kato and by sheer luck I happened to know someone who had his email address. I fully expected it to be the wrong email or just not hear back from him, but he ended up writing me back right away. I met him a few days later at the National Lampoon office on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles where he worked. Not only was he incredibly charming and charismatic, he was  funny and smart.  And the best part was that he actually had great advice about dumping a houseguest.

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TPF:  Your columns in The Huffington Post have been about relationships, or rather the end of relationships. Between those and your book, one might think that you’re a pessimist about relationships. Is that the case?

Jodyne: Actually, quite the opposite, but I can see how one could think that.  I come from a broken home, so I saw first hand how relationships can fail without kindness. Observing my parents I thought all relationships ended either by fighting or by avoiding each other, so that’s what I did for many years.  However I craved a different type of closure, I just didn’t know how to do it.  My writing has always been personal and I think my path ultimately led me to write Dump ‘Em because I learned what was missing for me, that voice that stands up for myself in a kind and respectful way. I am in no way trying to say that dumping people is easy, but my book advocates that there is a way of doing it where everyone gets closure and that for me is a hugely important part in ending any relationship.

TPF: Did you catch any flack from former friends, hairdressers, trainers or others who may have recognized themselves as examples in your book?

Jodyne: Funnily enough I didn’t. I actually went on Rachael Ray to apologize to my old hairdresser who reached out to me numerous times to see if I was okay after not hearing from me for some time. It didn’t help that I kept hitting delete on my answering machine. In all fairness she did give me a mullet before I graduated from college. But still, I knew this woman and saw her outside of the salon and she deserved to know that I was going in a different direction with my hair and not to expect me back. See that’s the thing, I think sometimes we build up saying good-bye to a relationship as the most difficult thing ever, when the truth is it can be very simple, it’s comes down to how we say it, and I advocate for less is more. Don’t go into long lists of excuses as to why you are leaving the relationship, keep it short and sweet with a potential opening for a return, because sometimes when we leave a relationship, we realize that we want to return and so leaving the door open is a great way of knowing you can return if things don’t work out.

TPF: Did you ever speak to or hear from your former assistant French Fry?

Jodyne: Sadly, no.

TPF: I’m sorry to hear that. Your story about that particular relationship was heartbreaking.

Jodyne: Ugh. I know! That one in particular got me where it hurts because he did absolutely nothing wrong. whereas with other relationships we have a way of justifying our actions by thinking that person was an ass anyway. but French Fry was salt of the earth.

TPF: Well, who knows, maybe French Fry reads The Phil Factor and will see this and understandIt’s been a couple years since Dump ‘Em came out. Are there plans for another book of any kind?

Jodyne: I’ve been talking to people about turning the book into a television show, which would be a lot of fun.  I also just finished a screenplay for a production company in Los Angeles based on an article I wrote for the Huffington Post. I’ve got a few other things up my sleeve, but you’ll have to follow me on Twitter to find out!

TPF: I think a show based on the book is a great idea! I’ll follow you on Twitter and look for Dump ‘Em in next seasons Fall line up. Jodyne, thank you for visiting #ThePhilFactor and thank you for your time.  I’m glad you didn’t decide to dump me when I e-mailed to ask for this interview. For those of you that would like to read more you can find Jodyne’s book in both hard copy and e-book in bookstores and on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and all the other online retailers. You can also follow Jodyne on Facebook and Twitter. As always, if you enjoy what you read here please share it with your friends by hitting the Facebook, Twitter or other share buttons below.

Throwback Thursday! My Interview with Robbie Rist

This is absolutely one of my favorite interviews. You may not recognize his name, but he has been part of American pop culture for the last 50 years.

(June 26, 2015) For my readers who don’t know Robbie’s name off the top of your head, you no doubt have seen or heard him in something. Over the last fifty years Robbie has been quietly woven into the fabric of American pop culture like few others. If you haven’t seen him in a movie or TV show, you’ve probably heard his voice as a cartoon character dating back to his work as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Michelangelo for the 80’s cartoon and 1990 movie, or the Final Fantasy X video game or more recently as Stuffy for the Disney channel’s Doc McStuffins.  He’s also appeared in too many shows and movies for me to list here.  Even better though, he has an awesome rock band, The Ballzy Tommorow! What gave me the idea to contact him for the interview was when it occurred to me recently that he has been part of two of the most iconic pop culture phenomena of my lifetime, The Brady Bunch, and Sharknado.

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Phil: Robbie, welcome to The Phil Factor and thank you for taking a few minutes for my readers. When you got the part as the bus driver in Sharknado, what did you expect would be the public reaction to the movie?
Robbie: Well, I had heard about the poster for the movie from a friend who had gone to the American Film Market here in Santa Monica (The AFM is like a micro Cannes. People try to sell films there) and both of us being genre fans, we kinda lost our minds at the thought of it. I have said that the title of Sharknado says more in three syllables than The Trip To Bountiful does in 6. Then I found out my friend Anthony C. Ferrante was offered it. Anthony and I were working on music for another of his films when he told me he was offered it and I told him, “I don’t know why or how, but I really think you should do this movie. Something about it feels…….like something….”. So, I guess I thought the response would be pretty great, considering the way people reacted to the name. I wasn’t expecting Twitter to explode over it…..

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Phil: You obviously were absolutely right. The name caught my eye and ear and I decided, good or bad, I had to see it. Doing music for movie soundtracks isn’t your only musical outlet. Could you tell us about your band? What kind of music do you play? What has been your best gig?

Robbie: Well, we have gone through a name change after losing an original member (Pandora’s bassist/drummer Karen Basset) so now we call ourselves Ballzy Tomorrow! As far as style, I have pretty much been doing the same kind of pop/country/psych thing for decades. It’s that kind of power pop music no one likes but I get a kick out of it. Best gig ever was playing The Rally in The Alley in Buffalo NY in the 80s. It was, like 20,000 people. Played with Spirit. Fun day.

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Phil: Aww,  it’s too bad I didn’t know about it. At the time I lived about ninety miles east of Buffalo and could have come out to see your band. If Ballzy Tomorrow, The Mockers, or the band you produce every come out East, let me know. Robbie, You’ve had a very diverse career. What’s your favorite thing you’ve done?

Robbie: Tough to say. I just like to make stuff. I mean, I am super proud to have been a part of so many things that hit the zeitgeist super hard like The Brady Bunch and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. But I think I am most proud of Doc McStuffins. Apparently it is set to cause a spike in the amount of young women (specifically African American young women) who go into studying the sciences, especially medicine. Considering that almost every cartoon on the planet, McStuffins included, is in existence to primarily sell toys, I would call this a solid fight from the inside victory.

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Phil: When Sharknado just blew up and became this huge thing, did anything changed for you?

Robbie: Well, not as far as my bank account goes, but some really great stuff happened like…..I had never had one of my songs re-mixed before.

Also, some young people did a vocalese version of the theme (which I couldn’t find). So, did I get more work out of it? Not really. But sometimes art is its own reward. Some people really reacted favorably to it.

Phil: The Brady Bunch and Cousin Oliver. How do you feel about people bringing that up constantly?

Robbie: Great! Hey. It’s on the resume. I respect the right of somebody to not want to be bothered but I don’t get that considering most people become performers to get attention.

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Phil: We know what you’ve done and what you’re doing. What’s coming up for you in television or movies? Where and when is your band playing next?

Robbie: The band is actually two bands. We do songs that we write but we also do a weekly half 70’s tribute band/ half live band karaoke thing at a restaurant out in Moorpark California called Red Ball’s Rock and Roll Pizza. Happens every Friday. It’s pretty out of control. The original band plays a once a month residency at Canter’s Kibitz Room in Los Angeles.

I just finished three songs for the Sharknado 3 soundtrack!

Phil: Yes, you heard him right folks, if you haven’t followed my Twitter or Instagram, there will be a Sharknado 3 this summer! So, besides creating awesome music for awesome movies, what else?

Robbie: I have also been doing some comedy writing and performing with an artist out here named Lisa Orkin. She has a website called HonestlyLisa.com that is a comedic relationship thing. Every week we do these little minute long audio bits based on her real dating life. She’s pretty much a genius.

I also have a (what we hope is) comedic talk podcast called The Spoon which can be found at www.thespoonradio.com.

I’m gonna be producing a band from Barcelona in a couple of months called Suzy & Los Quattro. This will be my third go around with them. I’m also gonna be on an acoustic tour of Spain in October with my friend Seth Gordon from The Mockers

(Hey folks, don’t worry, The Mockers and Suzy & Los Quattro will be my next two Music Monday features ~Phil)

Robbie: As far as the acting side, I just won the gig as Mondo Gecko in the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon. Doc McStuffins is going into its last year so…….I have no idea what is gonna come next. It seems to always be something…..I guess I can always go back to college…….

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Phil: Awesome! Congrats on the Mondo Gecko role and congrats on the continued success of all your music ventures. Thank you again for taking the time you did. In the future, anything you’re working on has a home on #ThePhilFactor. If you want to follow Robbie on social media you can find him on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Also you can support Robbie by watching Sharknado 3 on  Wed. July 22 on the SyFy network and by downloading the Sharknado soundtrack.

[As of this re-publishing of this interview Robbie was recently in the Lifetime movie Blending Christmas and will be in an upcoming TV movie titled Olde News. He also has a new band called Cousin Oliver’s Cavalcade of Hits.

“50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” in the 21st Century

I realize most people under 45 won’t remember this brilliant, catchy 1975 song from Paul Simon. First is the official video of the original. Beneath that is my idea of what the lyrics would he if he recorded it again in the new millennium. I’m hoping for enough social media shares that it gets back to Paul Simon and he actually does re-record it.

 

The problem is all inside your head, she said to me
The answer is easy if you take it logically
I’d like to help you in your struggle to be free
There must be fifty ways
To leave your lover
She said it’s really not my habit to intrude
Furthermore, I hope my meaning won’t be lost or misconstrued
But I’ll repeat myself
At the risk of being crude
There must be fifty ways
To leave your lover
Fifty ways to leave your lover
Swipe to the left, Jeff
Block him on Instagram, Ma’am
You don’t need to be a girl or boy, Roy
Just get yourself free
Hop on the Uber, Goober
It’ll be so much smoother
Just drop off the Snapchat, Pat
And get yourself free
You just give her the ghost, Jost
Block him on Instagram, Ma’am
Make a new profile, it won’t take awhile
You don’t need to be a girl or boy, Roy
Just get yourself free

She said it grieves me so
To see you in such pain
I wish there was a filter I could use
To make you smile again
I texted I appreciate that and would you please explain
About the fifty ways

She said why don’t we both
Just sleep on it tonight
And I believe in the morning
You’ll begin to see the light
Then she sent a kiss emoji
And I realized she probably was right
There must be fifty ways
To leave your lover
Fifty ways to leave your lover
Just swipe to the left, Jeff
Block him on Instagram, Ma’am
Make a new profile, it won’t take awhile
Just get yourself free

Hop in the Uber , Goober
It’ll be so much smoother
Just drop off the Snapchat, Pat
And get yourself free

You just give her the ghost, Jost
Block him on Instagram, Ma’am

Make a new profile, it won’t take awhile
You don’t need to be a girl or boy, Roy
Just get yourself free
Hop on the Uber, Goober
It’ll be so much smoother
Just change the password key, Lee
And get yourself free
Now that you’ve read it, can you imagine how popular that would be if he did that now? If any of you happen to know Paul Simon, please send him this or use the social media buttons below to share it.  I think the world needs this. Have a great Tuesday!
~Phil

Are We a ‘Veruca Salt’ Society?

Veruca Salt 1971 & 2005

We love our streaming services, don’t we? So many choices and all instantly “On Demand.” On Demand? That’s a great catchphrase some marketing whiz came up with in a meeting about fifteen years ago. When I think “On Demand” I think of Veruca Salt. No, not Veruca Salt the 90’s band that had that great song we all knew, but the Veruca Salt of my childhood. Veruca Salt from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. (I put the picture from both Willy Wonka movies so that I can rake in big views from both generations) Veruca’s big musical number in the movie was titled “I Want It Now.”

That kind of sounds like our attitude towards television, doesn’t it?

Consumers seem to be more “consumery” than we used to be. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? When the hot new show hits our favorite streaming service we all consume it ravenously and  immediately don’t we. We “binge-watch” until we run out of episodes. And, while we’re bingeing our shows, we order food and drinks delivered to our doorstep ASAP.

It’s not just food, drink and entertainment that we binge on though, is it? Aren’t we the same way with information? We have supercomputers in our pocket that give us instant answers to any questions. Raise you’re hand if you’ve looked something up at a library in the last 15 years. Hmm…let’s see…I’m not seeing any hands. Maybe this has already been too many words and people have lost interest. Hmm…too many words?

I keep an eye on the length of my posts because I fear our ADHD society won’t stay long enough to read the whole thing. When I began blogging in 2005 there was just blogging. Then in 2009 when Twitter came along it was called microblogging. So let’s do an analogy. There’s blogging and there’s microblogging. There’s also penises and micro-penises. Which one do you want? That’s right, so stay and read my blog versus the microblog.

And with Tinder people are trying to have micro-relationships delivered to their door, rather than meeting people in “real life.”

To be honest, I blame England for my frustration. First of all, they made the Willy Wonka movie with Veruca Salt as the heroine. Secondly, you know how most streaming TV series are 8 episodes per season and sometimes you have to wait a year or two for the next 8 episode micro season to come out? That’s England’s fault. They’ve done that stupid shut for decades with popular TV shows and over the last decade, American streaming shows have followed suit.

In the States we grew up with 22 episode seasons that were there on our TV every year. Until Netflix showed up, we never whined or worried about our TV shows. They just kept showing up every year for a decade or two. We grew up with Jerry, Elaine, George, Kramer, Rachel, Monica, Chandler, Joey, Phoebe, Ted, Marshall, Lilly, Barney, and Robin. They were part of our lives every week. Other than Law & Order, nothing seems to do that anymore. (Mariska Hargitay is going to be on that show until she’s 90)

So what do you think? Has the human race changed? Have we become a Veruca Salt society? And if so, is that change good? (Trademark pending on the phrase “Veruca Salt Society”)

Have a great Sunday! ~Phil