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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: November, 2016
Nov 28, 2016

If you’re not from Alberta, you may not know that the province has been, functionally, a one-party state for decades at a time. Thirty-six straight years of Social Credit rule collapsed to forty-four straight years of Progressive Conservative control.

2015 saw the unexpected election of the New Democratic Party under the leadership of Rachel Notley, leap-frogging over the right-wing splinter party Wild Rose led by former Conservative MP Brian Jean, and crushing the PC party led by former Conservative MP, the late Premier Jim Prentice.

But no one expects the NDP to continue the tradition of four decades of rule, whatever its ambitions. And if party turn-over remains a reality, then Alberta will at last have become a modern Western democracy.

It’s been a rough ride for the NDP, despite the enormous popularity of Premier Notley, herself the daughter of the former provincial NDP leader Grant Notley. After the election honeymoon was over, the reality of low oil prices, a high deficit, and the handling of Bill 6 have threatened the party’s chances of re-election.

Bill 6 sought to protect farm workers by granting them Workers Compensation Bureau coverage and thus freeing farmers from liability, but the Bill 6 consultation and communications plan met widespread criticism spearheaded by the Wild Rose opposition. The defeat of the federal NDP, the former official opposition at one point seen as the next government, further dampened hopes for the provincial party.

But it’s not only the NDP facing a difficult future. The Alberta Liberal Party was reduced to a single seat and the defeat of its former leader Raj Sherman, himself a former PC. The former PC leader Jim Prentice immediately resigned and then died in a plane crash in 2016. Wild Rose leader Brian Jean’s attempts to discipline his own MLA Derek Fildebrandt seemed to have backfired and weakened his own position.

Worse still for Brian Jean is the former Conservative MP and Stephen Harper lieutenant Jason Kenney leaving federal politics to seek the leadership of the ailing provincial PCs to collapse it into the Wild Rose, topple Jean, and become the leader.

The only two women in the PC leadership race, Donna Kennedy-Glans and Sandra Jansen, both quit after being targets of what Jansen called “Trump-style politics” from Kenney supporters, whose harassment included calling Jansen a “baby-killer.” Jansen said:

“My social media has been filled with filth, my domain name purchased to direct people to smear pieces on me and … the final straw… Insults were scrawled on my nomination forms. Volunteers from another campaign chased me up and down the hall, attacking me for protecting women's reproductive rights, and my team was jeered for supporting children’s rights to a safe school environment.”

The result of such intimidation? Jansen crossed the floor to join the NDP.

Joining me to analyse all the above is David Climenhaga.

From his official bio: “David J. Climenhaga is an award-winning journalist, author, post-secondary teacher, poet, and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions at the Toronto Globe and Mail and Calgary Herald. He holds a Masters Degree in Journalism from the Carleton University School of Journalism in Ottawa. His 1995 book, A Poke in the Public Eye, explores the relationships among Canadian journalists, public relations people and politicians.” Climenhaga blogs at AlbertaPolitics.ca.

Climenhaga is also a 4th-degree black belt in Uechi-Ryu, a traditional style of karate from Okinawa, and during the course of our conversation he and I both make reference to the Eastern martial arts.

We spoke last week on November 25 at Climenhaga’s office in downtown Edmonton to discuss the present for Sandra Jansen, the legality and morality of floor-crossings, what Climenhaga calls “sleazy” tactics of the Kenney campaign, and how in his opinion the NDP is failing to put its star player on the field in the Grey Cup of provincial politics, possibly at the cost of its own future.

Full disclosure: I have volunteered for the provincial and federal New Democratic Party, and have also provided paid public speaking training for some of its members.

albertapolitics.ca

Contact: albertadiary@gmail.com

Etymology of Tory: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=Tory

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Nov 22, 2016

Called “Violent, poetic and compulsively readable” by Maclean’s, science fiction author Tobias S. Buckell is a New York Times Bestselling writer born in the Caribbean. He grew up in Grenada and spent time in the British and US Virgin Islands, and the islands he lived on influence much of his work.

His Xenowealth series begins with Crystal Rain. Along with other stand-alone novels and his over 50 stories, his works have been translated into 18 different languages. He has been nominated for awards like the Hugo, Nebula, Prometheus, and the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Science Fiction Author. His latest novel is Hurricane Fever, a follow up to the successful Arctic Rising that NPR says will ‘give you the shivers.’

He currently lives in Bluffton, Ohio with his wife, twin daughters, and a pair of dogs. He can be found online at www.TobiasBuckell.com

Buckwell spoke with me about:

  • Growing up on a boat with TV but with a literal boatload of books
  • The impact of Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov on his young imagination
  • The significance of foundational adventure novelist African writer Alexandre Dumas
  • Using a 23+Me genetic test to uncover stunning revelations about his family
  • How he turned his reading disability into an authorial superpower
  • How to supercharge a sleeping-pill plot into an electrifying page-turner
  • How not to end a chapter
  • Reasons for academic bias against discussing the craft of entertainment

tobiasbuckell.com

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Nov 15, 2016

Anthony Q. Farrell is an amazing cat. He’s from Toronto, went to actual comedy school, and ended up writing for one of the most influential US comedy series ever, The Office on NBC, which is also one of my favourite shows.

He wrote two of its most enduring  episodes: “Casual Friday,” in which Dunder Miflin former district manager Michael Scott returns to his old job with also former-ex-employees Pam Beesley and Ryan Howard, and the emotional “Employee Transfer,” in which Michael Scott breaks up with Holly Flax, the love of his life, during a road trip to her new home.

Farrell also served as the Canadian culture consultant on “Business Trip,” in which Michael Scott, Andy Bernard, and Oscar Martinez go to Winnipeg.

In addition to having written for two years on The Office including the Office short films “Taste the Ice Cream” and “Money Trouble,” Farrell wrote for The Thundermans, Originals, In Gayle We Trust, and was the series creator of Dwelling and The Secret Life of Boys. He also wrote and was executive story editor for the CBC sitcom hit Little Mosque on the Prairie.

Did I mention that Farrell is an African-Canadian? And given that there aren’t many African-Canadian writers who’ve hit it big in Hollywood, as soon as I knew Farrell existed, I was determined to hear what he had to say.

In today’s episode, Farrell speaks with me about his career in comedy television, including:

  • The impact that Office showrunner and executive producer Greg Daniels had on him as a writer and later as a showrunner
  • The artistic and collegial environment for writers and actors on the show and what made it so effective
  • What is was like working with series stars such as Rainn Wilson who played Dwight Shrute and Mindy Kaling who played Kelly Kapoor, and what it was like to pitch a joke to Steve Carell
  • What it feels like to write fat jokes about actors you’ll be seeing every day at work, and why some actors stop getting comedic moments in their scripts
  • And which Office actors were most like their characters.

Farrell spoke with me by Skype on June 10, 2016.

We begin with Farrell discussing how attending comedy school gave him the training and the contacts he needed to build an outstanding career.

 

Anthony Q. Farrell on IMDB

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Nov 7, 2016

Brandon Easton is a super-accomplished creator. In addition to having made the must-see documentary Brave New Souls about African-American writers and artists in science fiction and fantasy novels, comics, and movies, he’s also a:

 

Easton has received the 2015 Disney-ABC Writing Program, a 2014 nomination for the Eisner Comic Industry Award for Best Single Issue or One Shot, and four Glyph Awards. He was also a semi-finalist for the 2013 Hollywood Black Film Festival's Project Stargazer, which was a collaboration with NASA to find and develop science-fiction writers of color.

Easton spoke with me on June 27, 2016 by Skype, about:

  • How the Disney ABC Writing Programme works
  • Pro writing for the market with big money at stake
  • The pressure of writers rooms and how they made him smarter
  • How showrunners choose their writers
  • How to break an episode
  • The art and science of bottle shows
  • The penalties for going over budget

 

While I mention that we’ll be talking about writing for Marvel, that’ll be coming in a future episode of MF GALAXY, so keep subscribing.

Buy Brandon Easton’s Brave New Souls documentary on African-American science fiction and fantasy film makers, authors, and comic creators. It’s a great doc and it’s only 8 bucks. 

 

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