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MF GALAXY

MF GALAXY is a weekly podcast powered by four mighty engines: * Writers on writing: the craft and the business * Pop culture including TV, movies, graphic novels, and more * Progressive politics, activism, and social enterprise * Africentric change-makers, histories, cultures, art, and more! Mixing brand-new interviews with classic conversations (from my archive of 23 years in broadcasting) with famous and dynamic figures in the arts, Hollywood, and politics, MF GALAXY will take you to places you've never been before, and deliver fresh insights on the places you've been.
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Now displaying: April, 2015
Apr 27, 2015

Actor William B. Davis is best known as Cigarette Smoking Man, AKA Cancer Man, from the 1990s hit science fiction television series The X-Files.

By know all you X-Files-ophiles know that the Chris Carter-produced show will be returning to television in 2016 as a six-episode miniseries shot in Vancouver, and will feature stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson as Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. And returning with them will be the sinister Cigarette Smoking Man, whom the readers of TV Guide voted Television’s Favourite Villain.

Davis, the Canadian screen legend, is also an acting teacher who founded his own acting school where he taught stars such as Lucy Lawless. Davis is the author of a memoir called Where There’s Smoke... Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man. In this episode’s conversation you’ll hear Davis talk about the craft of acting and his odyssey to enrich his own artistry, including the time when his fellow student Donald Sutherland was, in Davis’s words, “not very good.” He also discusses his thoughts on:

  • The difficulty of creating credible tears and laughter, and David Duchovny’s major acting liability
  • Why some good actors falter in genre acting
  • What works on stage that doesn’t work on screen, and vice versa
  • The difficulties of merging divergent acting styles into the same fast-paced television production
  • His take on fellow actors such as Marlon Brando, Robert Downey, Jr., the Baldwins, and Dame Judy Dench.

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This episode is sponsored by the multiple-award-winning comic book store Happy Harbour Comics in Edmonton. Happy Harbour offers every comic and manga and more you could possibly want and if they don’t have it in stock, the friendly staff will get it for you.

Happy Harbour supports charities, schools and libraries, its own Artist in Residence, and even a scholarship. The store is family friendly, and the place where I buy all my comics and graphic novels, and where I have all my book launches. In short, it’s a great place. If you’re in E-Town and shopping for comics, find Happy Harbour in the heart of downtown across from MacEwan University campus on 107th Street and 104th Avenue, and tell them heard about Happy Harbour on MF GALAXY. 

 

Apr 20, 2015

Buk Arop, president of the Edmonton-based South Sudan Development Foundation, says that Emmanuel Jal, the award-winning South Sudanese hip hop artist, activist, and actor, is stoking the South Sudanese Civil War. To hear my interview with Jal, download episode 021 from mfgalaxy.org.

Like Jal, Arop is a so-called “lost boy”--a person who lost his childhood to the Sudanese Civil War. Born in 1981, Arop entered the Pinyudo Refugee Camp in Ethiopia where the Sudan People’s Liberation Army conscripted him as a child soldier.

When the Ethiopian regime fell in 1991, ten year old Arop and all the other refugees were forced to leave on foot. He arrived in Kenya’s Kakuma refugee camp in 1992, where he stayed until the year 2000. Then, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees nearly sent him to Norway, but at the last moment switched his destination to Canada, where Arop earned a BA in International Development Studies and an MA in Cultural Studies.

Today Arop speaks five languages and works with immigrant youth in Edmonton. He’s also the Secretary General for Abyei Youth Association in Diaspora and the president of the South Sudan Development Foundation.

While Emmanuel Jal spoke to youth across Alberta as part of a John Humphrey Centre-sponsored tour, he made remarks that Buk Arop denounced on Twitter: “Emmanuel Jal, a peace soldier beating South Sudanese war drums. Is Ban Kimoon et al aware?”

I spoke with Buk Arop on April 17, 2015 at the University of Alberta campus to ask him about what Jal was saying and why he objected.

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Apr 13, 2015

Award-winning hip hop artist, activist, author, and former lost boy Jal Jok, better known as Emmanuel Jal, was born around 1980 in Sudan and experienced trauma early. When he was seven years old, soldiers killed his mother—the first of many of his family to die at government hands. After his father joined the Sudan People’s Liberation Army or SPLA, Jal sought refuge in Ethiopia along with thousands of other children, and ended up enslaved by the SPLA as a child soldier—the so-called “lost boys.”

Jal eventually escaped to the town of Waat where he met a British aid worker named Emma McCune who was married to SPLA commander, and future South Sudanese vice president Riek Machar. After adopting Jal, McCune took him to Kenya for education, but she herself died in a vehicle accident only months later, and he soon found himself living in the slums of Nairobi.

It was there that Jal discovered hip hop and devoted his life to political art, particularly to engaging the struggles of South Sudan, and became an international star. He’s released six albums including Gua, Ceasefire, Warchild, Emmanuel Jal’s 4th Studio Album, See Me Mama, and The Key. He’s the author of the autobiography War Child, has appeared in a biographical documentary of the same name, and has acted in the feature film Africa United, as well as in the controversial movie The Good Lie, directed by Ron Howard and starring Reese Witherspoon; 54 Sudanese refugees have sued the film’s producers for exploiting them.

  • Jal’s philosophy on “benevolently stereotyping” strangers
  • His approach to being a settler on First Nation land
  • Why, in his opinion, the optimism that led to the creation of South Sudan has decayed into misery under the presidency of Salva Kiir Mayardit, the vice-presidency of Riek Machar, and the influence of Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni
  • The responsibility of the United States for the chaos inside its client state South Sudan, and
  • The effects of US Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush and former Kenyan president Daniel Arop Moi on the people of South Sudan.

 

For clarity’s sake, note that Jal uses the acronym SPLA to refer to the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army, the armed wing of the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement, which fought the Omar al Bashir government based in Khartoum, before South Sudan seceded with the city of Juba as its capitol.

I began our discussion by asking Jal what his life is like in Toronto, given the widespread racial profiling by police there, including the infamous “carding” system in which police, apparently as a matter of policy, stop all African men to demand identification.

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Apr 7, 2015

Last episode was part one of NOW READ THIS!, in which ten awesome people awesomely awesomed up their awesome reading recommendations. Why? Because a whole bunch of angries didn’t like the Bradford Reading Challenge.

What’s the Bradford Reading Challenge, you ask? Simple! Author, tech-reviewer, and fandom activist K. Tempest Bradford suggested in an xoJane.com opinion piece that readers should discover the world of writers who never get confused for Mitt Romney, Stephen Harper, or Patton Oswalt.

This episode, instead of ten boffo-socko book baptisers, let’s level up to SIXTEEN SCINTILLATING BOOK SPEAKERS.

That’s right! We’ll hear from:

* Directors Ernest Dickerson, Seith Mann, and Reginald Hudlin
* Alternative Radio founder and interviewer David Barsamian
* South Sudanese community activist Buk Arop
* Sociologist and author Algernon Austin
* Columnist, author, and activist Bill Fletcher
* Hip hop artist and activist Young Mav
* Actors Isaiah Washington, Jamie Hector, Robert Wisdom, and Scott Wilson
* Academic and artist John Jennings
* Academic and activist Nene Khalema
* Novelist and journalist Sparkle Hayter, and
* Scholar and author Runoko Rashidi

To hear the recommendations of Wab Kinew, Chuck D, Daryl Lennox, Lisa Yaszek, Gene Luen Yang, Geoffrey Anguyo, Clark Johnson, Clarke Peters, Denis Simpson, and Levar Burton, just download episode 19 of MF GALAXY from iTunes, and to hear my full interview with Bradford, download episode 18, or stream live from MF GALAXY.org.

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