Tag Archives: The Phil Factor

McDonald’s, Let’s Share The Shakes! Shamrock Shakes for the UK!

Dear Chris Kempczinski,

I am writing to you, the CEO of the McDonald’s Corporation,on behalf of my friends in the fine country we call England. Why am I, an American, taking up a cause for everyone in England? It’s because I like every single British person that I’ve ever met. Sure there is probably a fair amount of arses over there, but they are not the majority.

I’m not sure if you’re holding a grudge over that little colonial dust up a couple centuries back, but since then England has been a good friend to the United States. It’s time for you to drop that grudge and allow all the British McDonald’s customers to have the one thing they want, Shamrock Shakes. The States have them. Canada has them. Ireland has them. Why not fecking England?

What have the Brits ever done to you? From your picture I can see that you appear to be red headed, so it’s probable you have some Irish blood coursing through your veins. Are you possibly holding a grudge over The Troubles Ireland/England conflict that ended over twenty-five years ago? For cripes sake, drop that old grudge too and offer an olive branch. The Shamrock Shake in British McDonald’s would heal that old wound between the countries and bring people together.

There’s no downside. You would come out of this looking like a hero. Your England McDonalds would make even more money. You would be known all over the UK as the man who brought redemption and Shamrock Shakes to England.

So what’s it going to be Chris? A few sugary shakes in the UK, or infamy as the man who wouldn’t let the Brits have Shamrock Shakes? C’mon Chris, let’s share the shakes, let’s share the shakes, let’s share the shakes… I can hear the chant building across the land…let’s share the shakes!

To all my readers, I encourage you to share this letter to McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski on your social media until the clamor for British Shamrock shakes cannot be ignored. If you like a more personal approach you can copy and paste it into an email and send it directly to the CEO at his email:  chris.kempczinski@us.mcd.com 

Have a great day everyone! I hope you get your shakes!~Phil

It’s The Great Pumpkin Spice Latte Charlie Brown!

At this point, I’m not even sure people remember the Peanuts cartoons. Although, in doing “research” for this post I discovered that there was The Peanuts Movie in 2015. I’m sure that totally resonated with kids. Good grief, as Charlie Brown would say.

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.


2. Twinkies

3. Donuts

4. Candy

5. Soda pop

6. Potato chips

7. Pasta

8. Cookies

9. Vodka

10. Hamburgers

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 the comments.

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 share button.

Have a great weekend! ~Phil

Throwback Thursday! The Poop at Home People

This particular post was chosen because I’m on vacation pooping somewhere other than home.

(1/17/2015) Everybody poops. In fact, I would bet a fair number of you are doing it right now while reading this on your phone. If you are pooping, I bet you’re doing it at home. Am I right?

It was really tough to find a poop picture that I thought would get by the Facebook censors so I could promote this post. Oh the search terms I used to find these pictures! The NSA will probably laugh their constipated asses off when they review their Phil Factor log today.

This is a sensitive yet important topic that I want to be accessible to as many people as possible because this is a very serious subject that impacts millions of poople every day. I want poople to know that domesticus poopius is no reason to feel shamed or embarrassed. I want to bring pooping out into the light, into a public forum where we can all examine it without stigma.


According to true fact statistics that I made up, at least 50% of you are poop at home people.  If you’re a poop-at-home-poople, or domesticus poopius, which is the medical name for this disorder, then you’ve been impacted by it’s limitations for your entire life. Am I right?

Reluctant to go out with friends if you haven’t pooped all day? You go as much as possible before a vacation because you know you might not go again for days. Discomfort at work because you won’t go there? Or maybe you’ll go, but only in one particular bathroom and only during a time when no one else is around?  Bloating and flatulence from the back-up in your bowels? These are all symptoms of this terrible, terrible condition.

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I don’t have this disorder. I can go anywhere. In fact, I’m doing it now. In a stall at LaGuardia airport while I write this on my phone. There’s a line outside the door, but I don’t care.  This is a problem for a lot of you, so let’s talk about it.  First, in order to fix the problem you have to understand the why.

Is it a fear of germs at public restrooms? Guess what? Your skin is the largest organ in your body. It’s essentially a giant condom you’re body is wearing to protect your insides from germs. It does a wonderful job of it, doesn’t it? The only disease you can really get from from a toilet seat is ringworm, and that’s not so bad is it?

Worried about others knowing that smell came from you? Who cares? We all do it. Even the Pope, Queen Elizabeth, and Taylor Swift poop, and I bet they stink really bad. (In doing my “research” I did find a list of Taylor Swift quotes and none of them were about poop, meaning it’s likely she has domesticus poopius and is embarrassed to speak or sing about it)

Domesticus Poopius is so prevalent it has even made it’s way into pop culture. Some of you may remember a Seinfeld episode where Kramer had to go and couldn’t get home in time and lost the urge, resulting in days long constipation. More recently there was a How I Met Your Mother episode in which Lily found a hotel charge on Marshall’s bank statement and she thought he was cheating until he admitted that he couldn’t get home in time so he got a hotel room so he could be comfortable pooping.

Apparently there’s a Ted Talk about pooping at home. Here’s THE LINK . I haven’t watched it because I don’t want that in my browser history.

If you think about it, domesticus poopius is really an anxiety/fear based disorder. All toilets are basically the same, unless you’re in a third world country and have to squat over a trough. If you’re anywhere there’s indoor plumbing and you won’t poop, it’s because you’re fearful of something involved with the process.

Domesticus poopius is a mental disorder that can have real physical symptoms that are dangerous. I could go into a list from WebMD, but it would scare you about more that what your imagination might conjure up about holding in your poop too long. Guess what? Your imagination would be right, so go. Go freely and go anywhere it’s legal and appropriate! Free your mind and your bowels and never feel that shame again. If I was Oprah I’d say, “You get to poop, and you get to poop, and you get to poop. Everybody gets to poop!”

Well this has gone on long enough. Gotta go, if you know what I mean. If you want to save the life of a poop at home person please share this with them by hitting the Facebook, Twitter, or re-blog buttons below. Have a great Saturday! ~Phil

Disney IS For Adults

Picture credit: Walt Disney World and CNN

That picture above may be your worst nightmare. When most  people think of theme parks, they think of screaming kids, long lines, frying in the summer sun, and really expensive vacations. Disney World does have all of those things. But that’s not all they have…

My wife and I are what are called “Disney Adults“. We actually go on vacations to Disney parks without taking children. When my kids were young, we did take them to Disney a couple times, and do you know what? It’s more fun without them!

At least three times a year you can find us in one of the Disney Parks. In fact, I’m going this week. To be clear, I’m not staying in the Disney park for the whole week. They do a sweep after close to get any stragglers out. How do I know this…?

NOT a picture of me.                                                Pic credit: KnowYourMeme.com

I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Why? Just why would grown adults without kids spend a day at a Disney World instead of a beach in The Bahamas?” For one, you don’t need a passport. Two, the Disney owned resorts are just as beautiful as anything you can find in the Caribbean.

How about a Tahitian overwater villa with a beach? And guess what, someone will bring you margaritas while you tan.  Don’t love the beach scene? Go to Epcot!

Yeah, back when I was a kid, and when I took my kids, when I heard Epcot, my first thought was that someone was going to try to educate us about different countries. Yes, there are some fun rides at Epcot. If you just want to be laid back rather than trying to hold your eyeballs in on some roller coaster, try the ride Soarin’. That’s a laid back, fun ride.

My secret is to use the indoor rides as breaks from the hot sun. Other Epcot laid back rides that are nicely air-conditioned are: Soarin’, The Seas with Nemo and Friends, Spaceship Earth, Frozen Ever After, Living With The Land, Gran Fiesta and Journey into Imagination with Figment. The two in that last sentence that are italicized are rides so laid back that you’ll be in danger of dozing off while on the them.

As an adult, Epcot is not a theme park. What it is, is one of most epic walking pub crawls ever! You can eat and drink your way around the world all day. Most of the restaurants/bars  open at 11:00 a.m.

You can challenge yourself, as many have, to drink one cocktail, beer, or glass of wine in each of the 11 countries in Epcot. But don’t limit yourself to just drinks! Epcot has over 50 places to eat which includes, food carts, quick service restaurants, and full-on sit down restaurants. And, as anyone will tell you, start at Mexico and while you’re there, get some nachos, quesadillas, or anything they make there. It’s all good and you should put something in your stomach before drinking. It will slow down your buzz.

If you’re a wine fan, you’ve got to hit the Weinkeller in Germany for plenty of choices of fine wines, including the option to get a wine flight!

Pic credit DisneyFoodBlog

Disney Springs! If you’re not familiar, Disney Springs is the shopping, eating, drinking, entertainment center that is a must see if you are visiting Disney as an adult. Don’t bring the kids because they’ll want you to buy them something they see every ten seconds. Of course, the same could be said about my wife.

Pic from KingdomMagicTravel.com

Disney Springs truly is a theme park for adults. There are more than 60 places to eat and drink at Disney Springs and my wife and I are eating and drinking our way through our list of them each time we go to Disney World. We have our favorites that we repeat, but we’re hitting new ones each time we go. I’m guessing we may be up to forty or so after the next trip. These restaurants aren’t your typical theme park places to eat. Some are world class, run by famous chefs kind of restaurants. My favorite is Raglan Road, an awesome Irish pub with live music and Irish dancing. The food is great and I had a great beer from Iceland there once. If you love Irish stuff, they’ve got a great gift shop.

Disney Springs is not just eating and drinking. There’s spectacular shopping where you can find Disney themed knick-knacks, items, movie themed toys, and several high end clothing stores that have nothing to do with the Disney brand. You can also find a couple athletic clothing stores as well as a Harley Davidson store.

One of my favorite places is the House of Blues. It’s a restaurant, store and performance venue attracting well known bands from all over the world. Their gift shop is pretty cool.

Another different way to entertain yourself while at Disney Springs is Splitsville Luxury Lanes. It’s a bowling alley and a restaurant. Also, if you want to have some great movie snacks and get out of the heat, there is the wonderful air conditioning of AMC Dine-In Disney Springs theater. You can sit in your seat and order your meal from wait staff and it will be brought to you shortly while you watch the movie.

Pic from SplitsvilleLanes.com

In Orlando, depending on where you choose to stay, you may have access to Disney transportation to the parks. There are buses, water taxis, and the Disney Skyliner. To use these transportation options you’ll have to stay at a Disney resort or a Disney affiliated hotel. The Swan and Dolphin are Marriott owned hotels that are affiliated with Disney World. Both are great hotels. If you stay at them you can walk to Epcot in about 5-10 minutes. If you don’t like hoofing it, you can easily grab a water taxi in front of your hotel. There’s also a Doubletree Hotel within walking distance of Disney Springs or you can get a free Disney bus ride to Epcot. That will save you money over the Disney resorts. I’ve stayed there. It’s a very good hotel.

Disney Boardwalk. Pic credit: DisneyFoodBlog

A nice advantage of staying at the Swan and Dolphin Hotels is the Disney Boardwalk. It is a boardwalk type area around a lagoon. On one side is a couple Disney resorts, but on the other side there are restaurants/bars, (including a dueling piano bar and a dance hall), souvenir shops and food and drink carts.

Lastly I’ll comment on Disneyland. Disneyland is just 500 acres, while Disney World is about 40 square miles. Both are excellent, but because of size, Disneyland, in Anaheim, California, doesn’t have the extraordinary amount of choices. Also, unless you live in Anaheim, you’ll have to brave the traffic on the California highways, which sometimes can add a lot of time to your day getting there and back. Don’t get me wrong, I like Disney Land. Their Marvel Avengers campus is really awesome, as is the Star Wars area. But if you’re adults who don’t need themed rides and restaurant, then Disney World is the better choice for an adult vacation.

Despite this being a relatively long blog post, don’t just take my word for it. Hit THIS LINK and scroll past the sponsored Disney ad and read the plethora of blogs and websites saying what I’m saying. This is only the tip of the iceberg

If you happen to see me at any of the aforementioned places this week, feel free to say Hi! ~Phil

Good News! UFO’s Are Real! (Maybe Bigfoot too)

In case you weren’t following the news closely this past week, it seems as if the government is acknowledging that unidentified flying objects, UFO’s, or unidentified anomalous phenomena  (UAPs) are kind of a real thing. First of all government, we’ve called them UFO’s for at least 70 years. Why do you have to go trying to change the name just because you’re admitting that they exist now? I’m betting that the United States government is actually trying to find a way to make them pay taxes.

This past week a former military intelligence officer and two former fighter pilots told the United States House of Representatives that they are being lied to about UFO’s. The military intelligence officer reported discovering  “a multi-decade UAP crash retrieval and reverse-engineering program” during the course of his work examining classified programs. He said he was denied access to those programs when he requested it, and accused the military of misappropriating funds to shield these operations from congressional oversight. He later said he had interviewed officials who had direct knowledge of aircraft with “nonhuman” origins, and that so-called “biologics” were recovered from some craft. (last paragraph credit to CBS.com)

The two fighter pilots gave first hand accounts of UFOs that they saw first hand in the sky.

This comes as no surprise to most of us right? What? Our government lied to us? That’s crazy, right?

There’s two interesting parts to this. The “reverse engineering program” means that the government is trying to figure out the alien technology and build their own stuff with it.

The second interesting part is the “biologics” that were recovered. The “biologics” were probably not houseplants, right?  They recovered actual aliens!

I’m not going to go on, but this admission by the government makes past 10 year old me very happy.

Also, this past Wednesday, 76 year old renowned psychic Uri Geller posted on Instagram “Friends, Bigfoot, traditionally, is viewed as a simple creature of the woods while UFOs are considered sophisticated visitors from outer space. Yet, could there be a connection between the two? I believe, yes. Please let me know if you ever witnessed a Bigfoot type of creature and if you believe there is an alien connection.

First of all, shout out to 76 year old Uri for rocking the social media. He’s active on Twitter too. Anywho, as they say, keep your eyes on the  sky, because you never know when Bigfoot might fly by in a UFO. In the comments, I’d love to hear what you think about the UFO stuff and Uri Gellers theory.

Have a great Saturday and thanks for reading! ~Phil

Throwback Wednesday? 6 Questions with TMNT/Brady Bunch Star Robbie Rist!

With the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles  movie coming out this weekend, I thought it would be the perfect time to bring back my 2015 interview with one of the OG Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

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 forty 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 Michelangelo for the 80’s cartoon and 1990 movie, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, 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.  Including 2021’s Blending Christmas.  Better though is that 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.


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 A 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…..


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 ever 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.


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.


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…….


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.

Barbenheimer! What Other Classic Movies Would Be Great Combos?

Pic credit to RockandPop.cl

Has this ever happened before? Has there ever been a weekend when two such diametrically different movies opened at the same time?

To be honest, I was kind of rooting for there to be fights breaking out in theaters between the Barbie people and the Oppenheimer people. My money is on the Oppenheimer people.

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. I’m not rooting for personal harm to anyone, but some cotton candy, popcorn, and soft drinks in everyone’s hair might have been fun. I’m not sure what the atomic bomb of theater snacks is, but you know the Oppenheimer fans would release that immediately.

What also might be fun is considering some other movie release combos that might be ridiculous:

1990: Pretty Woman and Edward Scissorhands: What if the plucky hooker with a heart fell in love with the eccentric Scissorhands? Instead of snapping shut a jewelry box, he might accidentally snap off her fingers with his razor sharp scissors. That would give the movie a whole different tone.

1994: Forrest Gump and Speed: What if Forrest had to keep running from a bus that couldn’t stop?

2009: Paul Blart: Mall Cop and Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen: What if the only thing standing between the human race and hellish robots from outer space was Paul Blart, mall cop?

2022: Top Gun: Maverick and Thor: Love and Thunder This one kind of makes sense because Thor is kind of the Maverick of the superhero community. But what would happen if Thor and Maverick were fighting for the same girl? Maverick is an over-confident dick and Thor would mop the floor with him.

I knew a guy in college whose last name was Oppenheimer. I really hope he went to see Barbie.

Happy Tuesday everyone! I hope you have a great day, and thanks for reading! What are your ideas for the best movie mash-ups?

Are Psychics Real? Uri Geller and I Think So!

Yes, I will continue to use this picture that I created in 2017. See? I knew what you were thinking, because I’m a psychic.

Are psychics real? That’s a big question isn’t it? Many people go to see psychics in a variety of venues for a variety of reasons and a lot of those people report their psychics as being knowledgeable and helpful.

Hmm… I wonder if Uri Geller psychically knows that I’m using his name to attract readers? Probably. Uri, if you’re reading this, I’d love to interview you.

Many “psychics” have made lucrative careers on stage and TV, as well as your local psychic who charges $100/hour for a tarot reading. The question is, do these psychics truly have the ability to read minds, see the past and future, and bend spoons? And, are these psychics qualified to give you advice on important life issues?

I do believe that some people do have legitimate psychic abilities, but that’s probably a much smaller number than the number of people who call themselves psychics.

Picture Courtesy Parade.com

The one group that most people are familiar with is tarot card readers. A person can give a great tarot card reading without being a psychic. Some tarot readers are actually very skilled therapists in how they work with a client through a reading. Some tarot readers are psychic and some are not, but either can be very helpful.

The pictures on the tarot cards are intended to project a general theme that either you or the tarot reader can interpret and expand upon, relating that theme to things in your life. As the tarot reader reveals each card it adds another layer of depth or nuance to the original theme that you or they attached to the first card. Tarot readers are one kind of psychic. There are many others.

Psychic Uri Geller

Another kind of psychic is the reality show/Las Vegas psychic. These type of psychics always make me a little uneasy. Not because I think they are all fakes, but because I think some of them are fakes. The guy in the picture above is psychic Uri Geller, who is best known for bending spoons with his mind. Yes, I believe that he really did that and I really believe that he is a psychic. Why do I believe that? I’m reading a book on his life and he has done so much more than just spoon bending. His life has been so unbelievably crazy that it deserves it’s own post, coming soon after this one. 

Btw Uri, if you’re reading this and know I want to interview you, just send me the answers. I’m sure you already know my questions

In addition to tarot card readings and putting on entertaining stage shows where they channel the spirit and voice of your late Aunt Audrey, psychics have a lot of different ways that their abilities are manifested.

Some can hold an object and tell the history of that particular object. Others have claimed to have the ability to leave their bodies and travel to and observe others. There is what’s called remote viewing, where psychics are able to mentally see what’s going on somewhere else far away. Telepathy, precognition, and telekinesis are some of the topics I’ll be exploring in my next few posts. If there are any other types of psychic phenomena that you’d like to hear more about, just give me a shout in the comments. 

Thanks for reading (my mind) Especially you Uri! ~Phil

Interview: An Evening at Macri Park with Sean Barna

I travel for work. Back in March, after a long day of driving, I was in Erie, Pennsylvania. I got to my hotel room, dropped my stuff and headed to the hotel restaurant for a beer and dinner. I sat at the bar so that I wouldn’t be taking up a table all by myself.

As I was finishing up my dinner, two guys came in and sat down at the corner of the bar. They talked loudly, laughed and bantered with the bartender. I had spent my work day having had about six 5-minute conversations. That was it for my socialization for the entire day. So, I picked up my beer, moved down the bar and inserted myself into their conversation.

If I was a musician, my album would be An Evening at The Hampton Inn. Doesn’t have the same ring as “Macri Park” does it? That’s how I met Sean Barna and his music producer Dave. A little over two months later Sean released a new album, so I thought I’d ask him a few questions about it.

TPF: Sean, your album “An Evening at Macri Park,”  is named after a bar in Brooklyn. How did that particular bar earn the honor?

Sean: There are, as you can imagine plenty of queer bars in NYC. Brooklyn nightlight and queer culture has historically been a bit more underground and a bit more envelope-pushing than what you will find in Hell’s Kitchen or Greenwich Village (I mean, of course, in the modern era of queer culture and art — not 1969).

Macri Park, at the time I was a regular, embodied this spirit more completely than some of the other spaces, in my opinion. I was a regular at a Monday night drag show, “Mondays on Mondays (on Tuesday Morning),” where I met such an eclectic and fabulous group of creatures and characters. The third set, which usually happened around 3am, featured an “open stage”… any drag queen could perform. This was beautiful in a way: a more well-known queen might stop by after their gig and give a show, and then some queen trying it for the first time might go on. Really a cool, welcoming place.
TPF: You have a unique voice and your music has a unique sound. Who were some of your influences?  Is there an artist that you grew up trying to emulate?
Sean: The only time I tried to emulate anyone was as a drummer, especially in high school and early in college. I was and remain, first and foremost, a drummer. I did not write any complete songs until I was 25 years old. This is relevant because I think emulation is more of a young person’s thing — I have no interest in sounding like anyone, at least on purpose. That being said, I started writing songs because I saw Counting Crows on August 18th, 2007. By this, I mean I started writing words down and exploring the possibility of vulnerability. Adam Duritz has since changed my life many more times — singing on my first album, CISSY and now on An Evening at Macri Park, as well as bringing me on tour as his direct support for two months.
TPF: Your identity as a member of the LGBTQ community is a big part of who you are and how you market yourself.  How did that evolve for you?
Sean: I am a musician, first and foremost. I resented having to “announce” queerness. I resent that society has created this situation where this has to be a main subject. Of course I understand why you are asking, but is me being queer anymore who I am as being straight is for a straight person? Sexually, no. But culturally, queer people are forced to announce it. And so, yes, of course it is relevant.
THIS ALL BEING SAID, every statistic that illuminates an ill of society is worse for queer people, but it becomes worse still for queer people of color, and much, much worse for trans people of color. I am one of the least vulnerable queer people on the planet. White, straight-passing if I want, masculine, from the United States.  All of this is to say, if I had a microphone and chose not not speak up, how dare I? That would make me a joke.
TPF: On your album you have two songs with Adam Duritz of Counting Crows. How did that partnership happen, and will there be more in the future?
Sean: Actually, he is on six songs. He sings lead vocals on two: Sparkle When You Speak has a chorus that just sounds better in his range, and let’s me do Madonna improvisations over the top. Be a Man, which I wrote on his piano while I was cat sitting, is my song, but I asked him to write his own verse. He sings background vocals on a few others.

Sean and Adam

ANYWAY, he hosts and is lead-organizer of a festival called Underwater Sunshine Festival (previously Outlaw Roadshow). Basically, he gets bands he and his friends like together for a weekend of music and laughs and beer. I played one of them because one of the organizers let me play. He saw me play my song, “Cutter Street“, and he and I have been in touch ever since. Now, however, he is one of my best friends and I would do anything for that man.
TPF: You’re signed with the Kill Rock Stars (https://killrockstars.com) label. You had to be super stoked to be working with them. Were you aware of their legacy going back to the 90’s?
Sean: I was vaguely aware. In the 90’s I was listening to classic rock. In the 2000’s, I was listening to classic rock and jazz, and eventually classical. I do not focus on legacy and I am not sure they do either. I told Slim, the owner, that I wanted to make a “fucked up bluegrass record” and he was stoked. So, I found my family pretty quick. Nowhere I would rather be.

Sean and his music producer Dave Drago of 1809 Studios

 TPF: You’ve been a musician your whole life. What is the best “rock and roll” moment you’ve ever had? 
Sean: Anytime you can headline a sold out show, regardless of the venue size, and get assholes kicked out for yelling over the band or being dicks in some other way… that’s a good day. Most rock and roll however would have to be when three guys wanted to take me home on the same night after a show and I went with the guy who would let my band come too so they had somewhere to stay. I refer to this briefly in my song, “Naked Heart.”
TPF: So apparently groupies is still a thing. And for my readers under 18, The Phil Factor is not encouraging wanton sexual behavior, but hey, if you’re over 18, have at it!
Thanks again to you Sean. I’m honored to have met you and more so that you took the time for this interview. For my audience, you can find Sean’s album anywhere you buy or stream music. You can follow Sean through his website and he’s a great follow on IG as SeanBarna.

A Great New Book From Author Ritu Bhathal !

TPF: I am happy to host author Ritu Bhathal on my blog for the first time. We’ve known each other through our blogs for the last ten years. Hi, Ritu, and thank you for joining me on The Phil Factor to talk about your books. Your current book, Straight as a Jalebiis the second in the Rishtay series. Could you tell us a little about Marriage Unarranged, book 1 in the series?

Ritu: Hi Phil! Thank you for inviting me over!  Yes, so Marriage Unarranged started out as a stand-alone novel over 20 years ago. It was the novel I felt was that one book they say is within each and every one of us. I love writing about my culture and topics close to my heart. It just happened that when I began it, I was planning my own wedding, so a story based loosely around marriage felt apt. In the book, which bears no resemblance to my own experiences – you’d be surprised how many people ask me if it is based on reality – Aashi, the main character, is getting ready for her dream wedding to Ravi. But she discovers he has been cheating on her, and this sparks a chain of events that leads to her discovering more about herself on a trip to India, with her two brothers and best friend. Aashi grows as a person, and we learn more about her brothers and best friend, and another person who becomes a part of their travelling group while out there. He may or may not allow her to believe in relationships again.

TPF: Your second book in the series, Straight as a Jalebi, focuses on a character struggling with the possibility of a non-traditional relationship that his very traditional British-Asian family may not understand. In both of your books, your characters struggle with the challenge of facing stigmas from family and friends. Are those feelings and fears something that would be very real in England today? 

Ritu: It does, indeed. As I mentioned before, this was never a planned series. In fact, I totally pantsed the plot of the first book, so when I finished, the other characters kept on talking to me. They wanted more of their stories to be explored, and the seed of a storyline had planted itself in Marriage Unarranged, which was natural to explore further.
This time the story centers around Sunny, Aashi’s older brother, and him dealing with alien feelings for someone he shouldn’t be thinking of in that manner. The story is set in the early 2000s, so there was even less acceptance and openness regarding sexuality.
I never set out to write moral-challenging books, but as I wrote, these issues that are so common in my culture cropped up and I decided it would be good to write more openly about them.
Much thinking has changed over the years with the younger generations but there are still stigmas in the older generations regarding so much, like broken engagements, children out of wedlock, sexuality and much more. They are felt in India and England, absolutely.
TPF: As an aside, if you don’t know what jalebi is, which I didn’t until I looked it up, it is a popular sweet snack popular in India, south and west Asia, Africa, and Mauritius. And this is what it looks like:
TPF: Your books have had nothing but great reviews. Have you faced any negative feedback related to the somewhat controversial subjects?
Ritu: Thank you for saying that, Phil! I have been thrilled with the feedback so far. You give so much of yourself when you write, so the reviews are the icing on the cake. The only mildly negative reviews I had with Marriage Unarranged were from Indian Nationals who hadn’t read the book description properly and thought I was writing about modern-day India, not the early 2000s. There has been much progression there, which many know, but back then, things were much like what I wrote about. I visited India in those years, so the descriptions I wrote about attitudes, and the areas the scenes are set, were true to that time. Some I was able to explain. Some I didn’t bother with!
TPF: Your current day job is as a teacher. Do your students know that you’re a famous author?
Ritu: I do love my students! They are very young, so the books I write wouldn’t register with them. However, my colleagues know and some parents who have even read the books are extremely supportive!
TPF: Your Rishtay series has been very well received. Is there a book 3 in the works?
Ritu: There is, indeed! It will have Bali, Aashis younger brother and best friend at the forefront. and, yes, there is another stigma surrounding the issue at the forefront! This time I will be exploring infertility. and who knows… there may be more. There is plenty to keep writing about!

TPF: Ritu, thank you for visiting The Phil Factor and congratulations on the success of your new book. For all my readers who are interested in learning more about Ritu and her books, you can find her at:

Ritu Bhathal – Author, Poet, Storyteller

 And you should definitely follow her blog which is linked to at her website!
Thanks for reading, and Happy Monday! ~Phil