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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: February, 2017
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

Feb 6, 2017

TV killed radio, ebooks killed paperbacks, and video games killed board games, right? Wrong, of course. In fact, according to my guest on today’s show, we’re living in the golden age of board games.

When I was a kid, all I knew was Monopoly, checkers, chess, backgammon, Trivial Pursuit, and the Game of Life. Now walk into any board game store, or these crazy things called table top cafes, and you’ll see wall after wall lined with board games, and people paying cover charge to sit with their friends for hours playing them. What is the freaking deal?

To answer that question I spoke with Paul Saxberg, the community manager for Roxley Games Laboratory. Roxley is a Calgary developer and publisher of board games. Saxberg told me he wouldn’t be in gaming community management without years of experience with game design, theatre, book sales, stand up comedy, IT, and ADHD.

At this point you’re probably asking, “What is community management, and why does it sound so awful?” You’ll get answers to those questions and learn why it’s actually excellent. Saxberg and I discussed plenty, including:

  • What board games offer that video games simply can’t
  • How to supercharge your crowdfunding campaign
  • How to get great publicity for your game or other project
  • How not to manage a gaming community or any other community
  • How game companies and other groups can improve their reputation, and how they can sink it, and
  • How to apologise, and how not to, when your company screws up publicly

Because Saxberg has a background in theatre, we began by discussing the link between stage and games, and why we’re living in the golden age of board games. We spoke by Skype on December 28, 2016.

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