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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: 2017
Jul 19, 2017

Super Sikh! That's right. He's a Sikh. And he's a secret agent. He's a Punjabi 007 who fights for girls' education and loves the music of Elvis Presley, while holding down a fake I.T. job to convince his parents that he's not risking his life for truth, justice, and the five Ks of the Sikh religion.

Super Sikh is the co-creation of Supreet Singh Manchanda, artist Amit Tayal, and writer Eileen Kaur Alden. While Alden was working on a career in screenwriting, her friend Manchanda approached her about creating a family-friendly Sikh action hero for comic books. They went to Kickstarter looking for $5000 to create their first issue. They got more than $22,000 in pledges, and in 2015 began publishing. Now they're up to issue number four and their fans love the comic enough that several issues have gone into reprints.

The comic has done more than thrill readers with great stories and inspire Sikh kids. Background research for the comic and its title character led its writer, Eileen Kaur Alden, to change her life in one of the most profound ways possible.

On June 17, 2017, I spoke with Alden by Skype. You'll be able to hear her dog yipping in the background of her Oakland home. We discussed:

  • Her work in various creative fields including filmmaking before she began making comics
  • Why Super Sikh loves Elvis but isn't an Elvis impersonator
  • The potential to turn Super Sikh into a movie
  • The degree to which the Super Sikh comic will be historical or political
  • How real-life atrocities in Pakistan mirrored events she'd just written in the comic
  • How readers, especially Sikh readers, have reacted to the comic, and what she hopes they'll do now that Super Sikh is in print.

 

supersikhcomics.com

facebook.com/supersikhcomic

kickstarter.com/projects/eileenalden/super-sikh

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Jul 19, 2017

A few months back I shared with you a panel convened by comix creator, TV writer, documentarian, and filmmaker Brandon Easton from the 2016 San Diego Comic Con Writers' Journey panel full of the specific how-to advice become a professional writer in comics, TV, and film.

In today's episode of MF GALAXY, Brandon Easton is back from the 2015 WonderCon Anaheim Writers' Journey Panel, and this time with actor, television writer, and comix writer Erika Alexander, with screenwriter and comix creator Tony Puryear, with comix critic and writer Hannibal Tabu, and with author, television writer, and indie filmmaker Marc Scott Zicree.

In today's episode of MF GALAXY, they discuss:

  • The single most important procedural and psychological step to take as a writer
  • The value of job-shadowing Rod Serling from beyond the grave
  • How and where you can find the right mentor and why you must
  • Where to find the awful and excellent scripts you need to read
  • The importance of writing your bio right, and
  • The surprising early failure of one of the most successful writers in US history

Many thanks to DeWayne Copeland who recorded the video for this conversation. You can find the complete video online at MFGALAXY.org and a link to Copeland's work, which includes my MF GALAXY conversation with him about his superhero web TV series CV Nation.

Thanks also to Brandon Easton for permission to use the audio; check my many conversations with him in the show archive, and watch for his upcoming film DDX: Department of Disclosure debuting August 18, 2017, starring Anthony Montgomery from Star Trek: Enterprise and Rene Rosado from Major Crimes.

 

Brandon Easton Twitter

Brandon Easton IMDb

Creative Screenwriting.com

Fools' Crusade blog

WonderCon 2015 Writers' Journey panel

Erika Alexander's & Tony Puryear's Concrete Park

Hannibal Tabu.com

Marc Scott Zicree IMDb

Marc Scott Zicree's crowdfunded Space Command

DeWayne Copeland's CV Nation

MF GALAXY interview with DeWayne Copeland on CV Nation

 

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Jul 11, 2017

How many times have you seen pictures of so-called development workers, who heroically and selflessly leave their privileged homes in the West to travel to any one of 54 countries on the African continent—although they’ll usually just say “Africa” as if it were a country?

They go to build houses or schools or work in a clinic, sometimes saying that they’re there to “save” people or even “save Africa,” all one billion of us, despite what is usually zero knowledge of any of the continent’s 3000 or more languages, more than 5000 years of civilisations and ancient literatures, its countless cultures, religions, and philosophies, or its contemporary arts, industry, and politics.

They also usually do not question why, in the case of the often barely-qualified “voluntourists” who build houses or schools, it is better for them to give airlines and hotels hundreds or even thousands of dollars than it is to pay local citizens of those countries to do the work their countries need. Nor do they ask the effects of spending tens of thousands of dollars to pay the salaries of foreign doctors, while also transporting, housing, and feeding them, instead of paying doctors from those countries so they can serve the communities that produced them.

But, so long as they pose for photos holding one of our babies and surrounding themselves with our children so they look like saints in shining skin, everything’s great, right?

Those are some of the concerns that Dr. Geoffrey Anguyo shared with me. He wasn’t interested in being sucked down the brain drain to grab the riches of practicing medicine abroad. He wanted to build his community, and so he created and headed the Kigezi Healthcare Foundation, KIHEFO, in Uganda.

Years ago he was touring Canada to raise awareness about and funds for his organisation which holistically assists people in Uganda’s Kigezi highlands to address hunger, HIV-AIDS, and entrepreneurship. I met him during that tour in Edmonton on June 1, 2011, and we spoke at the office of Change for Children which sponsors KIHEFO’s work. We discussed a range of topics, including:

  • How his childhood led him to study medicine and serve Uganda’s most needy citizens
  • How Uganda’s medical establishment is failing the people it’s supposed to serve
  • Why medical organisations must educate people and fight poverty if they’re going to win the fight against disease
  • The high personal profits some people get from the not-for-profit sector, and the high price that sector exacts on countries such as Uganda
  • Why international funders will fight aids but ignore malaria
  • Why Uganda needs investment and access to capital instead of aid, and
  • How investing in KIHEFO can earn you money while funding KIHEFO’s medical work, in other words, how getting paid is better than giving aid.

He began by explaining how he rose from deprivation to become a doctor for his nation. 

 

facebook.com/KIHEFO

kihefoblog.wordpress.com

twitter.com/KIHEFO

kihefo.org

kigezitours.com

 

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Jul 4, 2017

If you’re an expert on parenting, chances are you’re not a parent. And if you are a parent and you think you’re an expert, you’re probably not an expert either. Being a parent means constant worrying about getting it wrong and wondering if you’ll ever get it right. But at least that’s better than being totally sure you’re right because that’s a really bad sign.

That being said, a few things are starting to become clearer in the 21st century, and one is that trying too hard to be the perfect parent is counter-productive. And another is that if your goal is trophy children instead of happy children with the every-expanding wisdom to chart their own course, your kids probably won’t be happy or able to chart their own course.

Canadian author Carl Honore hit the big time with his 2004 book In Praise of Slow, arguing that people need to, well, chill out. In 2008 he released Under Pressure: Rescuing Our Children from the Culture of Hyper-Parenting. While he was born in Scotland he spent much of his childhood in Edmonton, and that’s where I met him way back in 2008 when Under Pressure was a brand-new book, Facebook was only four years old, YouTube was only three, and my first daughter was not yet two. He discussed his views on:

  • Why kids shouldn’t be outsourced to gadgets, and what toys should and should not do for kids
  • What it takes to create well-rounded and creative children
  • Why he agrees with George Lucas about education
  • Just how widespread over-scheduling is
  • How much time children need per day to be free of adult-structured and screen-focused activities
  • How to tell if you’re trying to turn your children into trophies, and
  • Why he disapproves of the movement to teach sign language to babies who can hear

 

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Jun 26, 2017

I met John Gallagher so long ago I don’t even remember it, but we were both members of the same fannish club called ESFCAS, the Edmonton Science Fiction and Comic Arts Society at the University of Alberta. A bunch of us there wanted to be professional artists—including Adrian Kleinbergen and Nigel Tully who found work in comics, Jaemi Hardy who became a fine artist, and Marc Taro Holmes who worked in video games and Hollywood and has published instructional books on art—and you can hear my conversation with him on MF GALAXY.

But John Gallagher is a particularly amazing success story. After training at the Alberta College of Art and Design, he went to work at Edmonton’s BioWare studio as a production illustrator. Later he broke into Hollywood, and has worked on Riverdale, the 2017 Power Rangers film, Supergirl, The Flash, The Man in the High Castle, Once Upon a Time, Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome, and X-Men: The Last Stand, among many other productions.

On April 27, 2017 Gallagher spoke with me by Skype from his home in Vancouver. He discussed:

  • How he began his career in television—but not where or how you’d think
  • How he joined BioWare in its earliest days
  • The myth and reality about ageism in Hollywood when it comes to production illustrators, and where older artists have an advantage
  • The amazing digital tools he’d like to see invented and which ones are only a few years away
  • What young illustrators need to understand about themselves in order to succeed, and
  • The number one illustration skill your portfolio must demonstrate if you want to get hired by a game or film studio tomorrow

 

Along the way several names bubbled up, including Ray and Greg, who are Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk, two of the founders of BioWare, and Trent Oster, another founder and now the owner of BeamDog. Gallagher also cited SUB which is the Student Union Building, and HUB Mall, both at the University of Alberta campus in Edmonton. And we talked about “crunch,” the video game industry term for the predictable, long stretches of overtime at the end of any project. And now on MF GALAXY, my conversation with John Gallagher.

 

John Gallagher

John Gallagher IMDB

SFCAS Facebook

Jaemi Hardy

Marc Taro Holmes homepage

Marc Taro Holmes MF GALAXY interview

Adrian Kleinbergen

Nigel Tully

Photogrammetry

 

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Jun 19, 2017

Saladin Ahmed is a fascinating cat. He’s best known as the Arab and Muslim American fantasy novelist who crafted Throne of the Crescent Moon which was nominated for the Hugo and won the Locus Award for best first novel. But his ethnicity also includes Polish and Irish, and his writing also includes short stories, articles, a stunning number of Tweets, and the new Marvel Comics series Black Bolt about the king of the Inhumans.

We met at the Science Fiction Research Association conference in Detroit in 2012, and he was as fun and down to earth in person as he is online. When I learned that he was writing for Marvel I just knew I had to find out what it was like for him as a novelist to leap into the world of comics, and was delighted to learn that like me, he was a lifelong comics fan who’d always wanted to create comics, too.

In today’s episode of MF GALAXY, Saladin Ahmed discusses:

  • Which influential editors and which groundbreaking comics writer helped him get the gig
  • How his shot at turning a D-list Marvel character such as Black Bolt into A-list potential gave him the chance to write one of his favourite Z-list characters into the story, and why
  • What aspects of real-world politics about alienation and prison he wants to address with Black Bolt, and which others he won’t touch and why
  • His personal connections to prison and knowledge of the secret life of prisoners, and why they matter
  • How writing comics helps keep him safe from what he called a “good old-fashioned nervous breakdown” and liberated him from the soul-crushing and intimidating solitary grind of novel-writing

Ahmed spoke with me by Skype from his home near Detroit on June 02, 2017.

Saladin Ahmed’s Patreon

Christian Ward

CBR - Black Bolt sent to cosmic prison

Marvel editor Sana Amanat

Marvel’s Sana Amanat page

Sana Amanat’s TEDx talk

Sana Amanat Talks Ms. Marvel - Late Night with Seth Meyers

Off Panel #52: A Day in the Life with Marvel Editor Wil Moss

The Inhumans

Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe

Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual

Crusher Creel, the Absorbing Man

5 Ways The U.S. Prison Industrial Complex Mimics Slavery

Angela Davis on the Prison-Industrial Complex

Inhumans coming to TV + debut on IMAX

Arabian Knight

How one 31-year-old paid off $220,000 in student loans in 3 years

 

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Jun 12, 2017

Remember when the Chinese, Saudi Arabian, and Nigerian governments invaded Canada and occupied it and it seemed like they would never leave? Remember how every province and territory fell like dominoes even after heroic military struggles against them, and so the invaders jailed or killed our resistance leaders after labelling them terrorists and savages?

Remember how they made trillions of dollars in profit for the Chinese communist party, the Saudi monarchy, and the Nigerian government, by stealing our whole country, and then they mocked us for being poor?

Remember how they destroyed and outlawed all our cultural institutions, suppressed all our languages, forced us to take Mandarin, Arabic, and Yoruba names, and forcibly converted some of us to communism, Islam, or the Yoruba religion—and punished us if we stayed faithful to our own beliefs?

Remember how they sent all our children to their schools where they tortured, starved, and even raped thousands of them, where they tolerated up to a 50 per cent death rate for our kids they jailed there, and often didn’t inform us when our kids died and they buried them in unmarked graves?

Remember all the trauma and addiction we experienced and passed on because of what they did to us, and how even after all that horror, for over three decades they kidnapped 20,000 more of our children and sent them to live with Chinese, Saudi, and Nigerian families who were occupying our land, and prevented them from learning their heritage languages and cultures and even knowing their real families?

Well, of course you don’t remember any of that because that never happened. But that is exactly what English and French invaders did to the hundreds of Indigenous nations of what is now called Canada. And the rest of us whose families arrived later became settlers on all that conquered territory—the second-largest country on earth—which means our families collaborated with that colossally destructive regime, whether we knew it or not. Every dime of Canadian GDP since 1867 has arisen from the cultural and even physical genocide that we don’t even call genocide—we call it “confederation.”

But because we as settlers teach ourselves to see the people we’ve conquered as beneath us, we can sleep easily and pat ourselves on the back as being the politest and most civilised people on earth, especially as compared to those nasty Americans. Because if we did see First Nations people as being just like us, and if we reflected on how we would feel and what we would do if anyone had committed such crimes against us, we would never sing “O Canada” proudly again.

But hopefully, we would commit our lives to righting the wrongs that earn our society trillions of dollars and make us among the most comfortable people on the planet.

Well, regardless of our collaboration with genocide, many of the people our regime targeted survived and many have even thrived. Award-winning filmmaker Tasha Hubbard has created the startling new documentary Birth of a Family. It’s co-written by Saskatoon Star-Phoenix reporter Betty Ann Adam, about Adam’s successful uniting with her three siblings Rosalie, Esther, and Ben, decades after the Canadian government kidnapped them.

It’s not a re-union because while Betty Ann had met each of them, the rest had never been together before the remarkable week of filming when they toured Banff and stayed in the same cabin at the Banff Centre for the Arts.

The director and co-writer behind this unforgettable portrait of intergenerational pain and profound triumph is Tasha Hubbard. She’s an Assistant Professor in the Department of English at the University of Saskatchewan. She won a Gemini and Golden Sheaf for writing and directing Two Worlds Colliding, and created the animated short Buffalo Calling which screened at the 2015 Venice Biennale. Her short hybrid documentary 7 Minutes won a Golden Sheaf Award in 2016. She’s a member of the Cree Nation, and researches and creates projects for Indigenous media on images of the buffalo and the experiences of Indigenous women and children. She also blogs for the Broadbent Institute.

On May 30, 2017, Tasha Hubbard spoke with me by Skype about her new National Film Board documentary. In this episode of MF GALAXY, we discuss:

  • How and why the Truth and Reconciliation Commission motivated Betty Ann Adam to make a film about uniting with her siblings
  • The strict rules that Hubbard imposed on herself to avoid ruining this pivotal experience in the lives of Betty Ann, Rosalie, Esther, and Ben
  • Why settlers continue to use quaint and even cheerful euphemisms such as “the Sixties Scoop” for a three-decade long mass-kidnapping campaign against 20,000 children and their families, and
  • How Hubbard ensured that her film conveyed the individuality, dignity, and triumph of the people she was photographing

Along the way, we discussed Write Magazine, which published an editorial that proposed a “cultural appropriation” writers prize to encourage people to write, in the editor’s words, what they did not know. I also mentioned a birthday party, which refers to a powerful sequence in the film. And Hubbard talked about being “raised away,” which means separated from one’s birth family.

 

National Film Board of Canada website

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Jun 6, 2017

Brotherman: Dictator of Discipline is one of the most celebrated indie comics ever to be published in the United States. Brotherman is the creation of two siblings: writer Guy A. Sims and artist-writer Dawud Anyabwile. While Marvel and DC today struggle to sell many of their titles in the low thousands, the original eleven issues of the black-and-white Brotherman comic sold a total of 750,000 copies via indie channels from African-American bookstores to barbershops and Black Expos.

Many credit Brotherman with fueling the growth of African-American comics in the 1990s. Now after a long hiatus, the series is back, not as individual pamphlet comics but in graphic novel form. Brotherman: Revelation – Book One is now out and it’s as engaging and gorgeous as ever—maybe even more now that it’s in full colour as ebook and trade paperback. When I learned the book was out, I just had to contact the artist, since I’d also loved his and his brother’s adaptation of Walter Dean Myers’ novel Monster.

In addition to co-creating Brotherman, Dawud Anyabwile worked for the video game company WanderLust Interactive, and on the television shows The Wild Thornberrys and Rugrats, and at Turner Studios as a designer and storyboard artist for Turner channels Cartoon Network, TNT, TBS, and others. He was nominated for the Will Eisner Best Artist Award, and won a 2016 Glyph Award for Brotherman: Revelation – Book One. And he also won a 2008 Emmy for conceptualising a public service announcement for the Dalai Lama, and in 1992 received the Key to the City of Kansas City, Missouri, for “Outstanding Service to Children” for the original run of Brotherman.

Dawud Anyabwile is also a down-to-earth, friendly, and very informative brother. A major reason I produce MF GALAXY is to support artists in various disciplines, including many who don’t have close to the creative discipline, sales success, and ability of Anyabwile and so need the publicity. And yet when I ask some of them who as yet have accomplished very little to come on the show, some of them turn up their noses. Not Anyabwile! Even though he’s been the subject of countless interviews and even documentaries, and you can find links to some of them on MF GALAXY.org, he was quick to respond, generous with his time, and kind. So, creators of various types, you can learn from this man in many ways.

In today’s episode of MF GALAXY, Dawud Anyabwile and I discuss:

  • The origins of the groundbreaking indie comic Brotherman
  • How his company Big City Entertainment avoided the 1990s American comics industry crash with stunning indie distribution success, and
  • The artists who were his best allies in launching his business

We spoke by Skype on May 17, 2017. I began by asking Anyabwile to summarise the story of Brotherman: Revelation - Book One, and what he hoped to accomplish with this volume that he hadn’t been able to do before.

brothermancomics.com

Brotherman Movie Intro and Documentary Teaser 2009

Brotherman Forever

Brotherman: Revelation Graphic Novel Book Teaser 2015

Brotherman: Revelation Graphic Novel Crowd Funding

Brotherman Comics on JJ On Atlanta - Peachtree TV - July 2009

Dawud Anyabwile - Self Portrait Speed Painting

Brotherman: Revelation Production Recording by Dawud Anyabwile

May 29, 2017

Plenty of aspiring writers think writing for children is easy, and getting published that way is even easier. Wrong! As almost any writer will tell you, unless you’re a star, the business is never easy and is definitely never a sure thing. On May 20, 2017, a group of children’s writers met at the Capital City Press writers conference in Edmonton for a panel called “From Aliens to the Zodiac: The A-Z's of Writing for Kids and Teens.”

Who organised the event? Why, the outstanding Katherine Gibson of the Edmonton Public Library and author S.G. Wong who’s Capital City Press’s featured writer, and they assembled terrific writers to help you learn what you need to break into Kidlit or advance your career there. Those panelists are Marty Chan, Joan Marie Galat, and Tololwa Mollel, and they’ll be introducing themselves. The moderator is author Natasha Deen, best known for her Guardian and also Retribution series.

During the panel they discuss:

  • Whose advice is worthwhile, and whose is worthless, when it comes to changing your writing—and why
  • The surprising reality about just how little publishers know about selling books, and
  • Why you shouldn’t start writing whatever is hot in the market right now

Many thanks to Katherine Gibson and SG Wong for arranging my recording opportunity. And now on MF GALAXY, Natasha Deen introduces the Capital City Press forum on writing and publishing for children.

http://martychan.com

http://www.natashadeen.com

http://www.joangalat.com

http://www.tololwamollel.com

May 23, 2017

Jacob Banigan is one impressive cat. He knows more about how to build and refine stories than anyone I’ve ever met, and I know a lot of writers. And yet Banigan doesn’t see himself as a writer and writes only occasionally.

So how and why does he grok story like no one else? Because he’s a master improviser who’s been studying the craft since 1990 when he joined Rapid Fire Theatre in Edmonton. Sure, he also gained skills in years of creating and performing sketch comedy, including in The 11:02 Show which is where we worked together for a season, and in Gordon’s Big Bald Head, where I also worked with him one summer.

But Banigan kept growing in the field, serving as Rapid Fire’s Artistic Director from 1995 to 2004, creating news plays, launching improv festivals Nosebowl and the long-form improv show CHiMPROV, and helped make Rapid Fire’s reputation go international by winning competition after competition. Now he lives in Austria where he works with Theater Im Bahnhof of Graz and English Lovers of Vienna, and he wanders the planet like David Banner, performing and teaching improv wherever people need him.

In today’s episode of MF GALAXY, Jacob Banigan discusses:

  • What the fundamental core of improv has to teach writers and all story-tellers
  • Why improvisers should never focus on “being funny”
  • The most important thing to know about how to get your audience to care about your characters and plot
  • Why it’s absolutely indispensable to screw up and even fail at your art, and when you should disrupt a system that’s working
  • How to harness randomness to improve your creativity
  • How falling in love with your process can cost you the quality of your product
  • How he runs the best critique sessions I’ve ever seen—which is why I’ve asked him to advise me on two screenplays—and how to learn his method, and
  • How to know if you can trust your fellow creators.

Banigan spoke with me over food at Edmonton’s Route 99 diner on August 24, 2016. He begins by introducing himself. I seriously overestimated how well my microphone would pick up my voice and seriously underestimated how much ambient noise it would collect. So sometimes I’ll be cutting in to rephrase my question, and at other times I’ve boosted the gain so you can hear me.

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May 16, 2017

Today on the show we’re talking about 13 Reasons Why, the Netflix series based on the Jay Asher novel. My guests are librarian Ashley Cain and policy manager Jinting Zhao, both of whom attended the high school where I taught for most of my teaching career, and where Cain was one of my English students.

I asked them to come onto MF GALAXY because they each posted insightful and powerful remarks following a Facebook thread I started discussing the series and asking about its accuracy.

In Edmonton, a school principal banned out-of-class discussion of the series. In the following show you’ll hear me incorrectly say to Jinting Zhao that the school was a junior high, but Ashley Cain correctly noted that it was an elementary school. The school emailed to parents to state its ban, but failed to encourage parents to discuss the series’ issues with their children. However, according to an online CBC news report, many schools across North America did just that. Other sources including The New Yorker magazine have attacked the series, leading series star Katherine Langford to defend it.

In today’s MF GALAXY, Zhao and Cain discuss:

  • The ethics of how the series depicts sexual assault and suicide, and whether such depictions encourage those actions
  • The accuracy or inaccuracy of the series and how its events relate to their own harrowing experiences of junior and senior high school
  • How social media harassment can traumatise teens in ways that are totally foreign to their parents’ experiences
  • Why many teens don’t know where sexual boundaries should exist to keep them safe socially and physically, and to prevent them from ruining the lives of their peers
  • The responsibilities of peers, teachers, and parents to young people to prevent the worst of what the series dramatises, and how some authorities inadvertently escalate the crises some teens are facing
  • How some young people can escape social persecution that could destroy them, and
  • Whether teachers and parents should be watching the series with their teens—and what questions they should ask afterward, and how.

 

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May 16, 2017

Today on the show we’re talking about 13 Reasons Why, the Netflix series based on the Jay Asher novel. My guests are librarian Ashley Cain and policy manager Jinting Zhao, both of whom attended the high school where I taught for most of my teaching career, and where Cain was one of my English students.

I asked them to come onto MF GALAXY because they each posted insightful and powerful remarks following a Facebook thread I started discussing the series and asking about its accuracy.

In Edmonton, a school principal banned out-of-class discussion of the series. In the following show you’ll hear me incorrectly say to Jinting Zhao that the school was a junior high, but Ashley Cain correctly noted that it was an elementary school. The school emailed to parents to state its ban, but failed to encourage parents to discuss the series’ issues with their children. However, according to an online CBC news report, many schools across North America did just that. Other sources including The New Yorker magazine have attacked the series, leading series star Katherine Langford to defend it.

In today’s MF GALAXY, Zhao and Cain discuss:

  • The ethics of how the series depicts sexual assault and suicide, and whether such depictions encourage those actions
  • The accuracy or inaccuracy of the series and how its events relate to their own harrowing experiences of junior and senior high school
  • How social media harassment can traumatise teens in ways that are totally foreign to their parents’ experiences
  • Why many teens don’t know where sexual boundaries should exist to keep them safe socially and physically, and to prevent them from ruining the lives of their peers
  • The responsibilities of peers, teachers, and parents to young people to prevent the worst of what the series dramatises, and how some authorities inadvertently escalate the crises some teens are facing
  • How some young people can escape social persecution that could destroy them, and
  • Whether teachers and parents should be watching the series with their teens—and what questions they should ask afterward, and how.

 

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May 8, 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy came out in 2014 and blew me away. I’ve called it the best Star Wars since Star Wars of 1977 for stunning imagery and action, and the feature film version of TV’s FarScape, for its gonzo humour and pop culture self-awareness.

And like both of shows, Guardians has outrageous, memorable characters that make fans wish we could hang out with them. That film made a billion dollars globally and now the sequel is out, and as of recording today on May 8, 2017, just four days after opening, Volume 2 has already earned $430 million dollars around the world.

Guardians is a giga-successful series and if we’re lucky, will bring the fun, great characters, and wonder back to science fiction filmmaking. Returning to the show today to discuss Volume 2 are author Krista D. Ball and filmmaker Ben Dobyns.

Krista D. Ball is an Edmonton-based science fiction and fantasy author who was born and raised in Newfoundland where she learned how to chainsaw and chop wood before getting a degree in History from Mount Allison University. She’s also a tough online brawler against the alt-Right, and is basically the Gamora of Edmonton. She’s also the author of more than a dozen novels and novellas including the Spirit Caller and The Dark Abyss of Our Sins series.

Ben Dobyns is a film producer, editor, cinematographer, composer, writer, and director, and one of the founders of Zombie Orpheus Entertainment, or ZOE. While he’s from the US he’s now living in British Columbia, and he and ZOE have just completed their third season of their indie-TV comedy-fantasy series JourneyQuest. They’ve also produced Strowlers, a forthcoming series about a world in which magic is suppressed and regulated by a xenophobic, oppressive government.  

Today on MF GALAXY, we look at the sequel which is not even a week old, discussing the familiar cast of Peter Quill, Gamora, Rocket, Drax, Baby Groot, Nebula, and Yondu, as well as Kurt Russell’s new character, all their interwoven personalities and arcs, modern screenwriting, the music of the film, its amazing cameos, its surprising and hilarious social satire, saving the galaxy, and whether my guests think it’s as good as the original. They spoke with me on May 7, 2017 by Skype.

Note that today’s discussion is 100% PACKED WITH SPOILERS. Listen at your own risk. If you’re listening on community radio and would like to hear the full 80-minute version, go to MF GALAXY.org to download it. Also, please note that Dobyns was Skyping at a public playground where his children were playing—you’ll even hear the sounds of swings later on—so some of his audio was difficult to discern. Therefore my virtual assistant M.O.I.R.A. will be voicing his missing words, as with Dobyns’s very first comment and again later on.

kristadball.com

zombieorpheus.com

 

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May 2, 2017

Science fiction has always been a male-dominated literary genre, right? All about steel braziers on submissive women serving—and servicing—Euro-American alpha males on a colonial power trip in space? Where all the authors and editors were men and women were allowed in only to tidy the office and deliver sandwiches and backrubs?

Guess again. According to my guests Lisa Yaszek and Patrick B. Sharp and their new book Sisters of Tomorrow: The First Women Of Science Fiction, when it comes to women, the accepted history of SF is all wrong.

Lisa Yaszek is Professor and Associate Chair in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication at Georgia Tech, and past president of the Science Fiction Research Association. Her areas of expertise include science fiction, cultural history, critical race and gender studies, and science and technology studies. She’s written for numerous journals and is the author of books including Galactic Suburbia: Recovering Women’s Science Fiction.

Patrick Sharp is Professor and Chair of the Liberal Studies Faculty at the California State University at Los Angeles. He researches the cultural dimensions of and beliefs about science and technology, and how they cross-pollinate with beliefs about race and gender. He’s the author of Savage Perils: Racial Frontiers and Nuclear Apocalypse in American Culture, and he co-edited the anthology Darwin in Atlantic Cultures: Evolutionary Visions of Race, Gender, and Sexuality. He’s also the faculty chief of

EagleCon, CSULA's annual convention dedicated to diversity in comics and science fiction sponsored by the Art Directors Guild and the Costume Designers Guild.

In today’s episode of MF GALAXY, Yaszek and Sharpe discuss:

  • The key women authors and editors who blazed a comet trail across the sky of early science fiction and opened up the genre to what it could one day be
  • The early male editors who were allies in egalitarian SF creation
  • The sexist backlash that ended the Feminist Golden Age of SF, led by an editor whose name is still spoken with honour today, and
  • How women writers changed the content of SF, even while male editors were eliminating them from the canon that they were building

My guests spoke with me by Skype from their offices in Atlanta and Los Angeles on April 24, 2017.

Please note that the US publisher Resurrection House has just released my acclaimed novel The Alchemists of Kush about how boys lost at war fight betrayal and oppression to transform themselves and the world. If you'd like to buy the book, please get it from your favourite independent local bookstore or Resurrection House. Barring that, there's Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

 

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Apr 24, 2017

Sheree Renee Thomas changed science fiction publishing by editing the anthologies Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora and Dark Matter: Reading the Bones.

Those books won the 2001 and 2005 World Fantasy Awards, and along with the novels of Nalo Hopkinson, Tananarive Due, and Steven Barnes relaunched Africentric science fiction and fantasy in the world of books and gave rise to the revolution which is growing around the African planet.

Thomas grew up in Memphis, Tennessee loving science fiction, but abandoned the genre until she encountered the work of Africentric SF luminary Octavia Butler and then found her own path to expanding the genre.

In addition to being an editor, Thomas is a poet and short story writer whose work has appeared in literary journals, magazines, and anthologies including Vibe, The Washington Post, Callaloo, Ishmael Reed’s Konch, The New York Times, Meridians, Strange Horizons, So Long Been Dreaming, and Hurricane Blues.

Numerous prestigious organisations have awarded her fellowships, including the Cave Canem Foundation, the New York Foundation of the Arts, and the Ledig House Foundation. She also headed her own independent press, Wanganegresse, co-founded the journal Anansi: Fiction of the African Diaspora, served as a juror for several prizes, and taught creative writing across the US and in London.

 

In today’s MF GALAXY, Sheree Renee Thomas discusses:

  • The enduring and electrifying power of Kindred author Octavia Butler and why Greg Bear’s Moving Mars mattered so much to Thomas
  • Why short stories matter even while novels are king, and which anthologies rocked her world
  • The wrong way to teach poetry
  • The different ways people approach nation language—or what some people call patois or creole
  • The indispensability of Africentric writers’ workshops, and
  • Easy techniques to enhance your own productivity and creativity, including playwright August Wilson’s ingenious technique for jumpstarting the next project

https://about.me/wanganegresse

http://www.aqueductpress.com/authors/ShereeThomas.php

 

Interviews listed on Wikipedia

Sources listed on Wikipedia

 

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Apr 18, 2017

So many people talk about breaking into comics, New York publishing, or Hollywood, but most of the ones talking haven’t done it, and most of those who’ve done it aren’t talking.

Today’s MF GALAXY features people who can walk the talk and talk the walk, and who are going to give you specific, technical advice and steps to take your writing career forward, such as what magazines and websites you must read, how to manage your social media presence to avoid sabotaging your career, what point in your story to start writing your script, and some surprising realities about mentorship by big-name writers.

All of this episode’s rising-star writer-creators spoke at a panel called The Writers’ Journey at the 2016 San Diego Comic Con, which despite the name is probably the leading TV and movie entertainment convention in the US open to the general public but swarming with professionals.

The panel is moderated by Brandon Easton, a recurring guest on MF GALAXY. He’s a 2015 Disney/ABC Writing Program winner and 2014 Eisner Award nominee who worked on Marvel’s Agent Carter and IDW's M.A.S.K., among many other projects. Panelists include TV producer Geoffrey Thorne of Leverage and The Librarians, TV staff writer Ubah Mohamed of The Whispers, Gang Related, and Cold, and comics writer-creator Brandon Thomas of Skybound’s Horizon and Miranda Mercury.

Many thanks to DeWayne Copeland who recorded the video for this conversation. You can find the complete video online at MFGALAXY.org and a link to Copeland’s work, which includes my MF GALAXY conversation with him about his superhero web TV series CV Nation! And now on MF GALAXY, Brandon Easton, Geoffrey Thorne, Ubah Mohamed, and Brandon Thomas with the Writer’s Journey!

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Apr 11, 2017

Art and activism—should they be friends? Hanging together like Kirk and Spock, Crockett and Tubbs, or Laverne and Shirley? Or should they be enemies like Luke Cage and Cotton Mouth, Avatar Aang and the Fire Lord, or Donald Trump and most of humanity?

Some people say that art and politics should never mix. Other people say that they always mix—but that people only protest those politics when they disagree with them. So if that’s true, what happens to society when people who define themselves as advocates and activists combine their views and ideas with their novels, paintings, plays, and more?

Those are questions that novelist SG Wong wanted answered. Wong is the inaugural featured writer of Capital City Press, a venture by the Edmonton Public Library. Wong is the creator of the Lola Starke hardboiled detective series set in Crescent City, California, in an alternate history in which China colonised North America. She’s also an Arthur Ellis Award-finalist and a tireless organiser in Edmonton’s literary scene. On March 27, 2017 Wong and the Edmonton Public Library convened a panel to discuss art and activism.

Kristen Hutchinson is an artist, independent curator, art historian, interior designer, and lecturer at the University of Alberta.

Matthew Stepanic is a poet and an editor at the Glass Buffalo and Eighteen Bridges literary journals, at the Tanner Young Publishing Group and at Where Edmonton magazine.

Dawn Marie Marchand is the Indigenous Artist in Residence for the City of Edmonton, and hails from the Cold Lake First Nation.

Aaron Paquette is a novelist, painter, speaker, and former federal candidate for the New Democratic Party

Marty Chan is a playwright, screenwriter, radio humourist, and YA writer.

 

In this episode of MF Galaxy, they discuss:

  • Their definitions of and experience with experience activism
  • What it means to say art is political
  • The value of reflecting to audiences who they are
  • Why one artist was about to quit painting forever, and what horrifying experience transformed him to the artist he is today
  • The role of social media among social artists
  • How editors can change the conversation about art and artists, and
  • The surprising thing that is an act of protest

 

sgwong.com

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Apr 4, 2017

Because race-based privilege, power, and exploitation are facts of planetary life, almost any society can be expected to maintain mythologies about race. That mythology includes the belief that those who belong to the racial power structure are superior to those who are excluded from that racial power system. Some of the excluded are deemed intellectually equal or potentially superior, but lacking in physical prowess and, for lack of a better term, “natural rhythm.” But then there are other people excluded by the racial power system, and inside the racial mythology, they are deemed intellectually and morally backward, but physically superior.

The late Dr. Manning Marable, a Professor of History and Political Science and formerly the Director of the Institute for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia University, discussed in a 1991 column called “Racism and the Black Athlete” how the mythology of race affected athletics. He wrote,

“For generations, White athletes who excelled in any sport were described as “hard-working,” “diligent,” “dedicated.” African-Americans who achieved prominence in sports, by contrast, were known as “natural athletes” who did not have to train rigorously for their successes. Joe DiMaggio and Rocky Marciano were applauded by the media for their work ethic; Sonny Liston and Willie Mays were described as “naturally-gifted athletes.”

“The basic racist assumption beneath these statements was that Blacks were “animals,” not human beings. Anyone knows that a horse can outrun any person. A gorilla is more powerful than the strongest weightlifter. To be Black was to be closer to the physical world of beasts. And of course, Whites who displayed physical prowess were said to have achieved these accomplishments by their mental powers.”

Marable continues:

“The argument is not only racist, it’s illogical in the extreme. Because in reality, success by any group in any avenue of human endeavour is largely determined by the factors of opportunity, availability of resources, and the levels of individual dedication.

“Why do African-American athletes dominate the NBA, but are virtually unrepresented in the NHL or the Professional Golfers Association? Build 5,000 ice skating rinks and public golf courses in the African-American community and create hundreds of training programs and incentives for Black elementary school children. Believe me, within 20 years you’ll have some Whites writing about the “natural ability” of Blacks in golf and ice hockey!

“Blacks excel in athletics because opportunities are still limited in professional and corporate circles for minorities and women. Expand job access and affirmative action enforcement, and fewer Blacks would go into sports.

“Racial discrimination is still rampant in college athletics. A recently released NCAA study indicates that the graduation rate after five years for Black athletes is only 26.6 percent, compared to 52.2 percent for Whites. More significantly, the vast majority of White athletes drop out of college during their early years, while nearly as many Black athletes leave school in their final years as in their first two. This implies that many coaches and academic officials are more concerned with eligibility rather than the goals of education and graduation, when it comes to Black athletes.”

Marable concludes:

“The NCAA study also indicated that when African-American and White athletes have the same SAT scores, Blacks graduate from college at higher rates than Whites. This shows that standardized tests are a poor indicator of future academic performance, and that Blacks with lower SAT scores shouldn’t be arbitrarily denied admission to higher education.”

Today we’re going to hear a Canadian’s take on the issue. Dr. Carl E. James

is a professor in the Faculty of Education and director of the York Centre for Education and Community. He’s cross-appointed in the graduate programs in Sociology and Social Work. He researches how marginalised youth experience school, sport, and society. The Royal Society of Canada inducted James as a Fellow, one of the highest honours a Canadian scholar can achieve in the Arts, Humanities, and Sciences.

He’s the author of the book Race in Play: Understanding the Socio-Cultural World of Student Athletes. The book examines the sociology of sport, youth, racism, and education, and how institutions such as public schools shape the career paths and educational future—or failure—of athletes based on race. In December 2005 James was in Edmonton for a conference on anti-racist education. We spoke at CJSR studios about how racism and athletics are tackling African-Canadian students.

A note: During this conversation recorded in December 2005, I remarked that racism against First Nations Canadians meant that they had no paths to sharing in the bounty of multicultural settler Canada. While I meant that as a critique of the settler colonial state of which I am a part, my statement blindly ignored the many First Nations Canadians who achieve excellence and even national and international influence in innumerable fields. We make far more progress not when we simply condemn what’s unjust, but when we by recognise and replicate success.

 

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Mar 28, 2017

Marty Chan is one of E-Town’s most successful writers ever. He’s best known for his popular children’s and young adult books including Keepers of the Vault, Infinity Coil, and the award-winning The Mystery of the Frozen Brains. But he’s also a screenwriter who worked on the TV series Jake and the Kid and received a Gemini nomination for his TV pilot The Orange Seed Myth.

Chan's best-known play is the semi-autobiographical Mom, Dad, I’m Living With a White Girl, about the culture clash of being a Chinese-Canadian finding work and love in the arts in Edmonton. The play’s been produced across Canada and in New York. Chan was the first playwright in residence at Edmonton’s Citadel Theatre, Canada’s biggest and busiest regional performing arts centre.

In today’s episode of MF GALAXY, Marty Chan discusses:

  • The professional tension he felt defining himself as a playwright or as Kidlit author
  • The personal meaning and artistic results of his unpublished and innovative zombie novel
  • How and why not having children frees him to be a children’s author, and why a writer friend told him that being a stay-at-home dad was the worst decision he ever made, and
  • The profoundly alienating experience of growing up as the only Chinese Canadian boy in Morinville, Alberta and how it’s affected him for life

 

Along the way I refer to The Memory Eaters, his unpublished novel he wrote for Book Television 3 Day Novel Contest reality TV series, season 1, for which I was a judge. The novel was a pre-Walking Dead zombie story that was uniquely from the zombie’s perspective and touchingly and profoundly addressed loneliness, isolation, social networks, and love. He also cites his opera The Forbidden Phoenix which incorporated the classic Chinese story of the Monkey King and Chinese Canadian experiences.

We spoke on June 23, 2008 at his home in Edmonton. This interview has never been aired before. And now on MF GALAXY, my conversation with Marty Chan.

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Mar 21, 2017

If you listen to CBC Radio then you’ve almost certainly heard the comedy of Neil Grahn. He’s been a debater on The Debaters, but he’s best known as one of the sketch comics on and lead writer for The Irrelevant Show.

Years ago Grahn was part of a pioneering sketch comedy troupe in Edmonton called Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie which included Cathleen Rootsaert, Wes Borg, and the late Joe Bird, which was briefly a television show. He’s currently the writer/director/producer behind the Gemini Award-winning series Taking It Off, and he’s a documentarian with many films to his credit including one about Amber Valley, one of the earliest African towns in Alberta. He’s constantly busy writing pilots and hustling to put new work into gear. The man is a machine, with plenty of wisdom to share about making it in the business of comedy writing.

In today’s episode of MF GALAXY, Neil Grahn discusses:

  • The no-nonsense approach to acting for actors and directors and why both must be open to whiplash-inducing turns
  • Why being a great comedy writer means risking never earning a living
  • His legendary E-Town comedy troupe Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie and how it didn’t get its name
  • The percentages game of writing and recording his hit comedy radio programme The Irrelevant Show
  • What more money costs you in show biz, and why making comedy on CBC radio is such a creative joy
  • How sketches go from the page to the stage on The Irrelevant Show

He spoke with me at his home in South-West Edmonton on November 19, 2014. And now on MF GALAXY, my conversation with Neil Grahn.

neilgrahn.com

deadtroll.com

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Mar 13, 2017

If you’re a Canadian who loves books as much as you love radio, then it’s almost a guarantee that legendary broadcaster Shelagh Rogers has been in your life for a long time.

Rogers is the host and producer of CBC Radio’s The Next Chapter, Canada’s leading author-interview radio show focusing on indigenous and settler Canadian writers. She started at CBC in 1980, hosting music and current affairs programmes, and working her way up eventually became the permanent guest host on Peter Gzowski’s Morningside, the host of This Morning, and also of Sounds Like Canada.

She’s won a range of awards and honourary doctorates, and as a result of her work and advocacy, Native Counseling Services of Alberta gave her their Achievement in the Aboriginal Community Award, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada inducted her as an honourary witness, the Order of Canada elected her as an Officer, and the University of Victoria named her Chancellor.

Rogers was in Edmonton on February 28, 2017 to host the Edmonton Public Library’s Conversation about Reconciliation at the Ramada Inn on Kingsway. Before she took the stage, we spoke briefly about a range of topics, including:

  • How a group of residential school survivors changed her life, and why she needed quit her show to pursue their story
  • The job of her show The Next Chapter and why literature shouldn’t be All Bran
  • The personal quality that interviewers must possess, and how you can learn to enhance it
  • When people are most likely to respond to you so you can build rapport
  • The advice that radio legend Peter Gzowski gave her
  • Why not being able to see her guests is not a bug, but a feature
  • How CanLit has changed for the better, and
  • For broadcasters and podcasters, the best way to style your voice

And now on MF GALAXY, my conversation with Shelagh Rogers.

Shelagh Rogers provided EPL with a selection of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and children's books that explore residential schools, reconciliation, and Indigenous identity.

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Mar 6, 2017

You ever dream of being a filmmaker? Maybe writing or directing television? Maybe you thought about it and figured that moving to Hollywood was out of the question, or even if you were willing to go, that climbing the ladder in Hollywood was too long a shot?

Or even if you were willing to try the long slog, you wouldn’t want men in suits ruining the stories you really want to tell by replacing all your egalitarian ideas with offensive stereotypes, or shoving all your most ingenious character creation, plots, and world-building into a blender to turn them into mass-market pablum? Because it takes millions of dollars to make a movie, which you could never raise on your own?

What if I told you that you could stay in your home town or even home country, tell the stories you want to tell and the way you want to tell them, and that it wouldn’t be Hollywood paying the bills, but your most loyal fans? Sound too good to be true?

It won’t sound that way to maverick indie filmmaker and pioneering crowdfunder Ben Dobyns, because that’s exactly what he’s done and doing.

Dobyns is a film producer, editor, cinematographer, composer, writer, and director, and one of the founders of Zombie Orpheus Entertainment, or ZOE. He also has a minor in Latin. He worked for years in Seattle and has now relocated to Vancouver BC. He and ZOE have just completed their third season of their indie-TV comedy-fantasy series JourneyQuest.

They’ve also produced Strowlers, a forthcoming series about a world in which magic is suppressed and regulated by a xenophobic, oppressive government.  

In today’s episode of MF GALAXY, Ben Dobyns discusses:

  • What Hollywood film-makers should be learning from French film production to make their workplaces better for workers
  • How getting ripped off by a Hollywood distributor led him to create a Creative Commons business model
  • Why indie film is a bad investment while his company Zombie Orpheus can repay investors within twelve months
  • The 1000 True Fans concept, how his team invented Patreon before Patreon, and how they crowd-fund today
  • Why your films should be ads for your company instead of selling ads for your films
  • How best to use Kickstarter and Patreon simultaneously, what his different backers want from each, and one surprisingly delightful physical reward
  • How he gets to make exactly the films he wants, and why selling his company’s stories and worlds to a giant media company would probably destroy their value
  • Why he’s heading off to Mongolia to work with the shamans of Ulaanbaatar, and
  • What makes human beings and societies stronger

We spoke by Skype on February 15, 2017, and began by discussing the critically-important question that a mentor asked him about what price he was willing to pay for success in filmmaking.

Ben Dobyns IMDb http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1389141/

 

Zombie Orpheus Entertainment YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/ZombieOrpheusEnt

 

Zombie Orpheus Entertainment is fan funded and creator distributed. Support them at Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/zombieorpheus

 

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Feb 27, 2017

John Ware is the greatest Canadian legend you probably have never heard of. He was a 19th Century West African born into the American continent-wide rape-gulag that apologists call the Old South. He went on to become one of thousands of African-American cowboys, and he eventually moved to what is now Alberta to become a master bronco-buster, successful rancher, a founder of modern rodeo culture, and a man of near mythic proportions with the strength of Paul Bunyan and the power of a horse whisperer.

Ware earned the admiration of many of his fellow settlers on First Nations territory, although many Euro-Canadians called him, and please excuse the language, “Nigger John,” and after he died, used the N-word to describe Alberta landmarks associated with John Ware, names that remained until late in the 20th Century. His reconstructed cabin still exists—you can find it in Dinosaur Provincial Park.

While a few people have written books about John Ware, it’s possible that no one has done more original research than celebrated Alberta journalist, essayist, YA novelist, and playwright Cheryl Foggo. She’s written for Canadian Magazine, Reader’s Digest.ca, Avenue, AlbertaViews, Western Living, Sunday Magazine, and The Globe and Mail, among many others.

Foggo's play John Ware Reimagined premiered in Calgary in August, 2014, and the script won the Writers Guild of Alberta 2015 Gwen Pharis Ringwood Award for Drama. She’s currently developing a John Ware documentary with the National Film Board of Canada. Her many other projects include adapting Chinua Achebe’s classic novel Things Fall Apart, and Hiding Place, a history of African settlements in southern Alberta. Foggo also makes acclaimed multi-media presentations across Alberta, including Ranchers, Rebels and the Righteous, Creole, and Unlocking Sacred Codes.

In today’s episode of MF GALAXY, Cheryl Foggo discusses:

  • How learning that John Ware was an African-Canadian changed her life
  • Mildred Lewis, who became John Ware’s wife, and the remarkably accomplished Lewis family from Ontario
  • How John Ware’s story defies the myths of Canadian beneficence and Euro-Canadian settler identity
  • How Cheryl Foggo has changed her playwriting craft over her career
  • How her experience as researcher, journalist, and historian affects how she constructs characters, and
  • Why poets often make the best playwrights

We spoke on February 14, 2017 at the Old Arts Barns in Strathcona, Edmonton, when she was in town to conduct a playwriting workshop. She began by discussing how when she was a girl she was a cowboy culture nerd. Please note that for the sake of historical clarity, I’ve left the use of the N-word in today’s podcast.

cherylfoggo.com

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Feb 20, 2017

Souljah Fyah. They’re an outstanding reggae band. And that’s not just me saying it. Here’s what Shelly Gummeson from Earshot-Online says: “On and off stage...[lead singer] Sista J exudes a high voltage, positive energy. Unfettered without setting limitations is precisely the attitude and energy that has propelled Edmonton’s Souljah Fyah to become Canada’s top Reggae band.” They’ve won all kinds of acclaim: including a Juno nomination, two Western Canadian Music Association awards, and twice-declared the best reggae band in Canada by the Canadian Reggae Music Awards and the Reggae Music Achievement Awards.

So who’s in Souljah Fyah? The leader is Waymatea Ellis, better known as Sista J; she’s the lead singer, the lyricist, and she plays bass; she’s also a reverend with her own healing practice. Too Tall Paul Joosse sings and plays keyboard and bass. Stormin’ Norman Frizzell plays keyboard and megaphone, and the Original Tribesman plays percussion. The band is back with The Long Walk, recorded at Edmontone Studio in Edmonton and Mad Rebel Studios in Negril, Jamaica, and the album features the classic mix that made Souljah Fyah great: intelligent lyrics full of personal and social commentary, and music and lyrics as warm as the Caribbean sun.

In today’s conversation, Waymatea discusses:

  • Why she makes albums rich with political and social content even though love songs would be more likely to make her rich
  • The impact of guest vocalist Access on the album and how she met the Jamaican singer
  • How her songwriting has changed to produce this latest album
  • Her most recent lessons in marketting and promoting her band, why she won’t tour the United States, and the impact of the late Soulicitors ska band member Kelly Callin on The Long Walk.

Throughout today’s show you’ll hear tracks from the latest album, including “Inner Critic,” “Bigger Than Me,” “One More Chance” with guest singer Access, “Circle,” and “All is Still.” Waymatea spoke with me by Skype on February 14, 2017. We began by discussing the meaning of the title The Long Walk.

SOULJAH FYAH

souljahfyah.com

waymateamusic.com

 

BUY THE LONG WALK

souljahfyah.com/listenbuy

 

REVEREND WAY

waymatea.com

 

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Feb 13, 2017

Thomas Wharton. If he decided to wear a ballcap that says “Winning” he’d have every right to do so. His first novel was Icefields, and straight out of the gate, it won the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize for Best First Book in the Canada/Caribbean division, and the first Banff Mountain Book grand prize. Then his second novel, Salamander, was short-listed for the Governor-General’s Literary Award and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. Then he up and gets his short story collection The Logogryph shortlisted for the IMPAC-Dublin Prize.

He also published The Perilous Realm, a YA fantasy trilogy. And his work’s been published in the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and many other countries. He teaches creative writing at the University of Alberta where he and I studied creative writing together way back in the early 1990s, and we had the chance to work together when I was the Writer in Residence at the U of A in 2014-2015. Tom’s also a down-to-earth cat who values rich language, numerous genres, and quality teaching.

In today’s episode of MF GALAXY, Wharton discusses:

  • What it takes to teach creative writing well
  • Whether Millennials are more narcissistic writers than Generation-Xers or Baby Boomers
  • How he plans stories and what made him change his method
  • Avoiding what he calls “the James Michener effect,” and
  • Clarifying the differences between fiction about young adults and young adult fiction

We spoke in my then-office at the University of Alberta on January 5, 2015, and Tom begins by introducing himself.

@TWhartonWrites

thomaswharton.ca http://thomaswharton.ca

facebook.com/perilousrealm

Thomas Wharton’s online writers’ workshop

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