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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: December, 2017
Dec 30, 2017

I don’t need much of an intro to today’s topic. We’re talking Star Wars: Episode Eight – The Last Jedi. JJ Abrams and his writer-flunkies are out for this one, but they’ll be back for number nine. This time the writer-director is Rian Johnson. Or is it Reean? Or Ree-Anne? Who knows. He’s done acclaimed work including Brick, The Brothers Bloom, Looper, and three episodes of Breaking Bad including its third last episode “Ozymandias.” In other words, buddy knows a thing or two about storytelling.

But how well can he do Star Wars? To help answer that question I’m joined today by two old friends: Stephen Notley, video game designer and the creator of Bob the Angry Flower, and Fish Griwkowsky, arts journalist and filmmaker. We’re all lifelong fans of Star Wars and we met three days after the opening of the film, December 17, 2017 at Edmonton’s Route 99 Diner to hash out The Last Jedi. And yes, today’s discussion is 100% SPOILERS. Listen at your own risk.

In today’s episode of MF GALAXY, we discuss:

  • How the film inevitably creates its own meta-movie, since we all know that Carrie Fisher is dead and that Princess Leia can’t come back
  • In what ways The Last Jedi is worse or better than The Force Awakens
  • The film’s theme that the only hope for the future is to let go of the past, or destroy it—and the cost of doing either
  • The ways The Last Jedi changes our understanding of classic Star Wars characters and events, and adds to its universe, and
  • The tragedy of Luke Skywalker

You can hear the full-length discussion, a bonus 40 minutes, for free! Just go to patreon.com/mfgalaxy. You’ll get to hear us yammer endlessly about:

  • The awesomely destructive death toll from Poe refusing to listen to women
  • The best destruction scene in Star Wars, ever
  • Porgs!
  • The chemistry of the actors and the characters—is it an improvement over The Force Awakens?
  • The sad fates of R2D2 and Luke Skywalker
  • How Snoke compares as a villain to Ian McDiarmid’s Palpatine
  • Where the hell is Lando Calrissian, and…
  • The power of smaller stakes and the true awakening of the Force

 

THE WOMEN OF THE LAST JEDI – BE PART OF THE DISCUSSION ON MF GALAXY!

Coming up next episode, join science fiction scholar Lisa Yaszek, Lady Geek Nite convener Sylvia Douglass, and science fiction novelists Jennifer Marie Brissett and Natasha Deen! We’re looking exclusively at the women of The Last Jedi: Rey, Rose, Vice Admiral Holdo, Maz Kanata, Captain Phasma, Paige Tico, and of course Princess Leia! Want to include your voice in MF GALAXY? Entries must be in by Friday, January 5, 2018!

WHAT TO DO:

Give me your opinion about any of the female characters from The Last Jedi: who they are, what they do, and how well the script and direction treat them. You can comment on any aspect you like, just one character, any combination or comparison, or all of them.

HOW TO DO IT:

If you choose to contribute, please record your answers into your phone or other audio device as a decent mp3 (preferably 192 kbps or higher, but if you don't know what that means, don't worry about it) and send it to me by Dropbox using mfgalaxypodcast at gmail dot com.

PLEASE REMEMBER to introduce yourself by saying, "I'm (your name). I (describe yourself). I want to talk about women characters in The Last Jedi because...." (and then answer whatever questions above you want, or your own ideas).

DON’T READ A SCRIPT, but feel free to use notes. Sounding unrehearsed is key. Rambling is just fine. Go as "inside baseball" as you like. Anything under 4 minutes.

I can’t guarantee your entry will make it onto the podcast, but I’ll listen to everything and include the most original answers that have broadcast quality sound.

Happy recording!

WHEN TO SEND IT:

Entries must arrive by Friday night, January 5, 2017. 

Dec 18, 2017

If you watch movies or TV shows such as Rambo or The Punisher and everything in between, you’ve probably seen how Hollywood explores PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder. According to US entertainment, PTSD is the horror that former soldiers experience because of war: flashbacks and rage attacks triggered by cars backfiring and footfalls at night.

But what if I told you that most of what you’ve been told about PTSD is wrong? That the causes are far more common and complex, and they’re in homes and on streets across the world? That “classic” symptoms such as flashbacks are extremely rare? That the US military is spending a gigantic fortune to cure PTSD, but not for humanitarian reasons? And that the only real cure to PTSD is probably prevention?

To discuss these questions today, let’s hear from Cultural and American Studies scholar Kali Tal, who spoke with me by Skype from her home in Bern, Switzerland on December 8, 2017. With combined interests including historiography, cultural anthropology, and African American studies, Tal has spent decades researching the complex causes of PTSD and our dire need to stop traumatising people in the first place. She’s a qualitative researcher and scientific editor at the University of Bern, and the author of Worlds of Hurt: Reading the Literatures of Trauma. And if you’d like to read it for free, keep listening.

In today’s episode of MF GALAXY, we discuss:

  • Why feminists pushed for a PTSD diagnosis for years before the psychological establishment accepted it, and why it didn’t work as they’d hoped
  • Why PTSD is so widespread that in some places, the question should be “Who doesn’t have PTSD?”
  • The class, gender, and cultural biases built into the PTSD establishment
  • The disturbing reasons why the US military and drug corporations are so interested in a cure, and the quack therapies being peddled as effective
  • And why working with other people is your best shot to relieve PTSD and fight its global causes

kalital.com

worldsofhurt.com

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Dec 11, 2017

Okay, so you’re a writer and you write a book and if you’re lucky it sells more than ten thousand copies, but you probably sold far less than that and then you’re looking through a bookstore and you find books written by Betty White, Robe Lowe, Patton Oswald, Miley Cyrus, Mindy Kaling #$%#@&!! Justin Bieber, who probably can’t even read? And you get furious and think how the deck is totally stacked against you, because how can you compete against someone whose book publicity machine is the entire music industry or Hollywood?

And then you get smart and say, “How can I get a cut of that action?”

And the good news is, you don’t have to be famous to do it.

Enter author and now agent Nick Chiles. He’s been in the writing game for more than three decades—not only as the editor-in-chief of Atlanta Blackstar, but as a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and multiple award-winning education reporter, and now as a best-selling author and celebrity co-writer. Chiles has co-created books with singer Bobby Brown, with political organiser Al Sharpton, with former Governor of Massachusetts Deval Patrick, and with NBA star Etan Thomas, among others.

So the lesson to all struggling writers is clear: you’re not famous, but you could write with someone who is, get paid, and get to attach the title “best-selling author” to your name for the rest of your career. 

Nick Chiles spoke with me on November 6, 2017 by Skype from his office in Atlanta. We discussed: 

  • How to convince celebrities to face and disclose their unflattering history, and the disturbing truth he got Bobby Brown to admit
  • What Al Sharpton forced him to answer while they were working on Sharpton’s book
  • Why one celebrity co-writer can cause more personal growth than an entourage of a hundred, and
  • How celebrities are likely to view a co-author who forces them to face reality

 

nickchiles.com

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Dec 5, 2017

I don’t know if there’s anything like Jordan Peele’s blockbuster horror film Get Out. Oh, there have been low-budget Africentric horror movies before, and this one was definitely low-budget: it cost only $4.5 million when the average Hollywood film is around $80 million.

But Get Out has earned a quarter of a billion dollars around the world, which further puts the lie to the Hollywood claim that audiences in Europe won’t watch films starring African casts or featuring Africentric stories. Plus, Get Out is an extremely political film.

I don’t mean it’s partisan, though: the villains in the film would seem at home at any US Democratic Party fundraiser or power-play. I mean it’s political, in that it’s an unforgettable and horrific satire on US Whitesupremacy. The film and its ideas are so powerful that its central metaphor “The Sunken Place” has entered our culture and vocabulary.

And for all those reasons and more, horror writer and UCLA film studies instructor Tananarive Due knew she had to teach a course built around Peele’s film. She called it “The Sunken Place: Racism, Survival, and Black Horror Aesthetic.”

Due worked as a journalist for many years, and is also the author of many celebrated novels, including The Living Blood, Devil’s Wake, and Joplin’s Ghost, and the short story collection Ghost Summer. She also co-wrote Freedom in the Family, a memoir of the 1960s US human rights struggle from the perspective of her mother, Patricia Stephens Due, who’d been an activist in it.

With her novelist husband Steven Barnes, Due writes the Tennyson Hardwick mystery series in partnership with actor Blair Underwood. She holds a journalism degree and an M.A. in English literature from Leeds, where she specialized in Nigerian literature as a Rotary Foundation Scholar.

Due has won the American Book Award, an NAACP Image Award, and the Kindred Award. In 2004, along with Nobel laureate Toni Morrison, Due received the “New Voice in Literature Award” at the Yari Yari Pamberi conference co-sponsored by New York University's Institute of African-American Affairs and African Studies Program and the Organization of Women Writers of Africa.

Tananarive Due spoke with me by Skype on November 20, 2017 from her home in California. We discussed:

  • The amazing story of how a Jordan Peele practical joke became the best film studies guest lecture ever
  • Why Tananarive Due’s UCLA film course The Sunken Place has become her most popular course ever
  • How the metaphor of the Sunken Place has entered our culture and its various dimensions of meaning
  • What the film says about who appears innocent while being completely complicit
  • African women in Get Out—are they more heroic than they first appear? And
  • The controversial Golden Globes categorization of the film as a comedy

Of course today’s discussion is 100% spoilerific, so if you haven’t watched Get Out yet, pause the podcast, watch the film, and come back to listen.

tananarivedue.com

Watch Jordan Peele confirm and debunk some of the most popular theories about hidden themes in 'Get Out'

 

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