Interview time! The lovely Lia" has bestowed upon me a number (five, to be precise) of questions she wanted to have answered. She delved deep into my blog past and has come up with a variety of questions about things I have written. If you find yourself curious about what inspired the questions or you just want a taste of how crazy/quirky/weird/cool (pick your adjective) I am, I have linked to the particular blog entries which were referenced. Ok, Lia, here goes.

1. You've mentioned the positive power of smiles. Describe in detail an incident in which you believe your smile may have altered someone else's life, and one in which someone's smile changed yours.

When I think about it, I often walk around with something of a goofy grin plastered on my face. Most times, I have a really hard time keeping a straight face, though I've found I can use a straight face best when it involves humor and/or sarcasm.

There are times when I encounter people and smile at them, and receive bizarre responses, such as sneers. Most times, that reaction comes from guys, who are probably mad at the world for one reason or another, and don't take kindly to another guy smiling at them. Lucky for me, I just don't care.

I'm trying to think of a time when my smiling at someone made a huge difference for someone, but none is coming to mind. There is, however a time when a scowl on my face directed at another made absolutely no impact, and because that's what I remember right now, that's what I'll tell you about.

It happened this past Monday (yesterday), when I went to the neighborhood grocery. I parked the car, easily fitting into the space. As I turned to get out of the car, a Psycho Mom in a Minivan (that's a technical term) came barreling around behind me, and luckily I noticed her before opening my door, as she came screeching to a halt next to me. She jumped out, slammed the door and clicked the alarm, and stared at me blankly as I glared daggers at her for nearly wrecking my car with me in it.

I think that's enough for question one. On to question two.

2. You once waxed poetic about potato chips. If a potato chip was created that possessed the essence of you, what flavor would it be, and what would the brand name be? Why?

This is a tough one. A potato chip that possesses the essence of Phil...hmmm... First, it'd have to be a made from real potatoes, as there's nothing artificial about me. I can't have just salt as a flavor, but I'd love something with garlic and onion, as well as a variety of other spices, to show the many aspects of my charming personality (it's not vain if it's the truth, right? okay, fine, to also showcase my sarcasm).

And of course, a hint of cheese flavor is a must, because I love cheese. I think it'd have to be parmesan. This many-seasoning plus parmesan flavored chip would have to be called "Philguins" (for Phil, and penguins, because I like them and their name sounds cool), and of course would be heavily advertised by none other than Yo Phil himself. Get a taste of vague and semi-uplifting pseudo-philosophy with your snack. Nothing is more satisfying!

Okay, next question.

3. You're an admitted "car-dancer". What are some of your classic moves, and what are some of your all-time favorite dancin' tunes?

Ah yes, I do love music. I have a number of patented moves for dancing in the car, not the least of which include drumming on the steering wheel and dash, as well as the arm rest. I also play a mean air guitar. Dance move-wise, I've been known to head-bang, though my hair isn't long enough to make it look cool. And sometimes the only way to feel the beat is with your shoulders and upper body really getting down. The only drawback to this last move is that sometimes the seat belt locks, and that can be painful.

Here's a few of my favorite CD's I've been jamming to lately:

1. Matisyahu - Live at Stubbs
Reggae and rap, Hasidic Jew style! This CD, recorded in Austin, is one of the greatest live CDs I own. Matisyahu rules!

2. Dragonforce - Sonic Firestorm
The kings of so-called "speed metal," this heavy metal group from England has catchy tunes and each and every band member is practically virtuoso. I really want to see them in concert, they have killer "stage moves," which consist of them running around stage and doing weird jumps, all while managing to totally rock. It's pretty amazing.

3. Swingin' Utters - Swingin' Utters
A street punk band out of San Francisco, California, these guys mix punk rock and folk rock like nobody's business. It's virtually impossible not to sing along and really get into it.

There is of course a whole bunch more that I listen to, but these are a few of my current favs. And for the sake of keeping this reasonably short, I think three's a nice little list. And on we go.

4. You once wrote at some length about houses. If you could have your dream home, where would it be, and what would it be like?

I've actually not given this one all that much thought in the past, which makes this an interesting question.

I think someday I'd love to have waterfront property, be it on a lake or the ocean. I love the outdoors, and especially love to be away from the city life because it's so relaxing. Don't get me wrong, I love the city, but it's fun to "get away from it all," so to speak.

A simple cabin would suit me just fine. One of my favorite houses I've ever been to was actually quite small, and its quaint size was fantastic. Not one part of the house went unused, so it felt like it was truly a home. I've seen other houses that are like museums, they're so huge, and quite often it's too much space for the number of people living there. Or at least too much space if it was me living there.

My cabin would have a nice living room, an open kitchen, and maybe two bedrooms. Of course, a deck is a must. And, lest I forget, I'd also need the wood-burning stove.

Someday, at the very least, I'd love this for a weekend or vacation place. And now, moving onward to the final question.

5. You are known for espousing your own wonderful PHILosophies, and for writing in an introspective, thought-provoking manner. Is there a certain philosopher--classical or otherwise--who inspires you? If so, who is it, and which of that person's ideas interest you most?

I suppose I find myself fascinated by all sorts of things in life, and everything that happens to me or that I encounter becomes an opportunity for me to learn. To me, life is full of wonder, and there's no way to experience and learn everything there is to learn. But that's not going to stop me from trying.

Much of my own personal philosophy is, I think, a result of the experiences I've had, mistakes I've made, and my life as a whole. When I write something thought-provoking, it is not only so for the reader, but also for me. I'll illustrate with an example:

I made a comment on this blog that was something I had thought about a lot, but never put in words. Regarding the comment about experiences, I had been wrestling with a series of what at the time I had considered unfortunate (read: poor) decisions and the experiences that resulted were not altogether happy. As I played the events out in my head, I realized after a while that, sure enough, there was something positive to take away from said fiascos, and that when I thought about things in a different light, it wasn't so bad.

Through my discovery of a sense of humor and a serious streak of sarcasm, I discovered when joking around with people that there were certain ideas that were actually quite amazing to think about.

As far as philosophy itself, I enjoy just about all of it. I like the Classical stuff plenty, and often find myself amazed that the same things said so long ago manage to hold true to this very day. I find philosophy in many unlikely places, and bits of wisdom come from all over.

To round out that vague answer, I would like to leave you with my all-time favorite quote, not just any old tip, but something to live by, from none other than one of my all-time favorite authors:

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind."
-Dr. Seuss

Thank you.