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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: March, 2016
Mar 29, 2016

Christian A. Brown is an epic fantasy author and indie publisher who’s earned the praise of Kirkus Reviews, Clarion Reviews, The Huffington Post, and a former supervising producer of The Oprah Winfrey Show. The former fitness trainer is also an active blogger on numerous topics, including gender and sexuality, and on his mother’s experience of cancer.

Christian Brown spoke with me by Skype on December 30, 2015 via Skype. We discussed:

  • How he distinguishes between cruelty and clarity in an editor
  • The clichés of high fantasy, including sexism, and what he calls “the need for male wenches”
  • How fantasy fiction ignores LGBTQ issues, how his own writing employs psychological realism, and why he needs to surprise himself
  • The business of writing and indie publishing, handling returns as an indie publisher, and why you need to own your ISBNs

During the discussion, I alluded to the concept of hypomania and mentioned the theory of multiple intelligences, but forgot the name of its framer—Howard Gardner (https://howardgardner.com/multiple-intelligences). We began by discussing Brown’s preferences for how an editor should work with him.

www.christianadrianbrown.com

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To hear the patrons-only extended edition of my conversation with Christian A. Brown, visit mfgalaxy.org to click on the Patreon link to become a sponsor for a dollar or more per week.

By funding MF GALAXY, you get access to all extended editions of the show, plus video excerpts from selected interviews as they become available. This extended edition includes Christian A. Brown discussing:

  • How there’s no such thing as writer’s block
  • The routine he employs to meet his quota of ten pages per day
  • Why you should quit while you’re ahead
  • Ways to remove obstacles to flow
  • The importance of Stephen King’s On Writing
  • Why indie publishers need to defer to certain professionals
  • The importance of investing in your career, including what you should pay for and what you shouldn’t, and
  • How he as an indie novelist got radio and TV coverage and distribution in Canada’s biggest book chain
Mar 22, 2016

Ice-T is one of the best-known artists from what is now widely known as the golden era of hip hop—the 1986 to 1992 span that saw the widest assortment of lyrical content and the climax of political and Africentric work.

West coast artist Ice-T brought a mixture of allegedly autobiographical stories and fictional ballads named “crime rhymes,” while also engaging in incisive social commentary against racism, media, and government.

In 1992, Ice-T’s musical career nearly imploded under attacks from White police, Charlton Heston, Al Gore’s wife Tipper, US vice president Dan Quayle, and President George H.W. Bush. Ice-T’s heavy metal band Body Count released the revenge fantasy ballad “Cop Killer,” about brutal and murderous racist police.

Having survived the onslaught with the support of The National Black Police Association, Ice-T continued to grow his acting career, which had begun with the 1984 US film Breakin’, grew through 1991’s New Jack City, and later hit its height on television’s Law & Order: SVU.

In the year 2000, Ice-T performed in Edmonton at club then called Red’s. In this episode you’ll hear what he had to say, including:

  • How he’d changed over the years
  • The personal price of political speech
  • How hip hop is overintellectualised
  • Whose opinions are irrelevant for him
  • His experience of the Million Man March
  • The unconventional means needed to help unconventional youth
  • His ongoing relationship with female criminals
  • His thoughts on Will Smith
  • What he doesn’t put into his body, and
  • His reflective and hilarious stories of being a touring musician.

A few of notes: I have no way of knowing what claims Ice-T made of his past are actually true; creating a fictional onstage persona is almost as much a key element of hip hop as it is of pro-wrestling. At one point Ice-T describes having been a pimp; I don’t know if his claims are true, but certainly now as a husband and father, I marvel at my failure sixteen years ago to have asked him about the inherent depravity of such a degrading and misogynistic profession. You are a grown-up, so decide for yourself if you want to listen.

That being said, for those of you who subscribe to the EXTENDED EDITION PODCAST, you’ll hear the commentaries on Ice-T’s remarks, also recorded in the year 2000, by E-Town community activists Darren Jordan and Kelly Fraser.

Also, when I recorded this interview in the year 2000, I’d never heard of Kid Rock. That’s important to know to understand the sarcasm of Ice-T’s comment and my confusion at his answer.

Finally, Ice-T let me interview him immediately after his show. There’s no question that any artist, or speaker, walking offstage after an intense performance is in a mind-state that isn’t suited to honest reflection, but to spectacle and artifice. But note while you’re listening how Ice-T slowly calms, becoming quieter and possibly more sincere. He was generous with his time, and for that I thank him.

 

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To hear the half-hour of patrons-only bonus material about my conversation with Ice-T, visit mfgalaxy.org to click on the Patreon link to become a sponsor for a dollar or more per week.

By funding MF GALAXY, you get access to all extended editions of the show, plus video excerpts from selected interviews as they become available. This extended edition includes community activists Darren Jordan and Kelly Fraser from a Terrordome interview in the year 2000 discussing:

  • Ice-T’s abilities as a social balladeer
  • How his onstage performances address and discuss women
  • How Ice-T compares with Dead Prez and Eminem
  • Whether Ice-T has matured
  • The tendency to dismiss critics as bourgeois
  • The peak of Ice-T’s social commentary
  • What “keeping it real” in song actually means for a rich celebrity, and
  • The discord between Ice-T the man and the persona

 

Mar 14, 2016

It’s one of the most innovative and best-written Western animated series ever made, Avatar: The Last Airbender. Brian Konietzko and Michael DiMartino created its three seasons, which ran from 2005 to 2008. While technically aimed at children and teens, the series had a vast adult following that continues to grow via DVD, and because of its sequel series The Legend of Korra.

Distilled to its essence, Avatar: The Last Airbender is about a Dalai Lama-style boy monk with super-powers. He’s a bender, a person who can shape the four elements to his will. In this world, each element has a nation: the Air Nomads, the Water Tribe, the Earth Kingdom, and the Fire Nation. Young Avatar Aang, born an Airbender, awakes in a world in which the Fire Nation has destroyed the balance among the nations by waging a war for global conquest.

Young Aang already knows air-bending, but if he’s to defeat the Fire Nation armies and its Fire Lord, he has less than a year to master the other elements, or face a planetary dictatorship that is now invincible. Avatar is a lushly animated and intelligently-written series with memorable and touching characters. It’s alternately deeply philosophical and hilariously slapstick.

Sifu Kisu is the martial arts consultant for the series. He’s the man who designed the distinct bending moves for each of the four nations and all the lead characters, and choreographed all the weapons fighting, based on his own decades of training in Chinese and other East Asian fighting systems. Avatar without his enormous impact wouldn’t be the same—try imagining Star Wars without the Force and light sabres. In the show’s final season, the creators transformed Sifu Kisu into a character named Sword Master Piandao, voiced by Robert Patrick, best known for playing the T1000 in Terminator 2.

Sifu Kisu has led a fascinating life. In addition to his decades of training in and teaching of martial arts, he’s been in the US armed forces, served as a body guard to foreign dignitaries, and worked in Hollywood; as an African-American super-achiever in martial arts, he’s befriended many of the most accomplished African-American practitioners of various fighting forms.

Sifu Kisu and I discussed:

  • How Sifu Kisu came to be the fight choreographer and martial arts consultant and concept designer for Avatar: The Last Airbender, even though at the time he was on a self-imposed exile from Hollywood
  • How Sifu Kisu worked with the producers, directors, and artists to translate his martial arts moves into animation, and how he invented the multi-martial system for the series’ elemental bending
  • How Kisu used the martial arts of Jingis Khan to design the martial arts for the evil fire bender Azula
  • How Sifu Kisu ended up as a character in the series named Sword Master Pian-Dao, and the impact of Avatar on the world of martial arts
  • Sifu Kisu spoke with me by telephone from his home in Los Angeles on February 20, 2012, and as you’ll note by his references to The Legend of Korra, that series was still in production.

We began by discussing Sifu Kisu’s pitch to Hollywood for his own animated martial arts series, which embodies his ideals for how martial arts can improve humanity.

 

To hear the half-hour, patrons-only extended edition of my conversation with Sifu Kisu, visit mfgalaxy.org to click on the Patreon link to become a sponsor for a dollar or more per week.

By funding MF GALAXY, you get access to all extended editions of the show, plus video excerpts from selected interviews as they become available. This extended edition includes Sifu Kisu discussing:

  • How he began learning East Asian fighting arts and the discipline required to perform literally thousands of kicks per day
  • Why he believes his advanced martial arts training saved his life without him having to throw a single kick or punch
  • What martial arts taught him about the difference between his ideal self and his real self
  • Sifu Kisu’s experiences with Hollywood stars and major martial arts masters including Dr. Moses Powell and Ron Van Clief, and how he almost got the starring role in The Last Dragon
  • Overcoming Hollywood racism
  • The martial arts difference between fighting on screen and fighting on the street, and how his Northern Shao-Lin kung fu fighting system addresses grapplers and grappling, the core theory of Northern Shao-Lin, and real danger in the world of martial arts

 

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