Tuesday, January 03, 2017

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PRINCESS LEIA + CARRIE FISHER REMEMBERED (MF GALAXY 103)

FIVE WOMEN CREATORS + CULTURE COMMENTATORS DISCUSS MEMORIES AND IMPACT OF CARRIE FISHER THE WRITER + MENTAL HEALTH ADVOCATE AND PRINCESS LEIA THE SFF/POP CULTURE ICON 
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Two  words known by hundreds of millions: "Princess Leia." That's the legacy  of the collaboration among Carrie Fisher, George Lucas, and hundreds of  other filmmakers who worked on the Star Wars saga.

But  without Fisher herself--the actor, the public personality, and the  astonishing accomplished novelist, screenwriter, and memoirist--Princess  Leia could never have become the icon she was.

MF  GALAXY celebrates the life and legacy of Carrie Fisher and her most  enduring role by speaking with authors Jennifer Marie Brissett, Krista  D. Ball, and Sparkle Hayter, writer Mari Sasano, and director Zoe  Hopkins.





Mohawk Star Wars
Krista D. Ball.com
Jenn Brissett.com
Sparkle Hayter.com
Zoe Hopkins IMDb
Mari Sasano.ca


Jennifer Marie Brissett on creating intimacy between readers and characters

How Krista D. Ball pays the mortgage with Ebook sales

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To hear the patrons-only bonus content for Carrie Fisher + Princess Leia Remembered, visit mfgalaxy.org to click on the Patreon link to become a sponsor for a dollar or more per week.
 
Carrie Fisher with Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Kylie Minogue

Teen-aged Carrie Fisher with mother Debbie Reynolds
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ARCHBISHOP DESMOND TUTU ON TRIUMPHING OVER A RACIST GOVERNMENT (MFGALAXY 103)


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Archbishop  Emeritus Desmond Mpilo Tutu is best known for his work to end decades  of European racial supremacy in South African politics and create  electoral democracy. Because all previous Cape Town Anglican archbishops  were European, Tutu was the first South African to be appointed to the  post and the primacy of the Anglican Church of South Africa.

Following  the retirement of formal apartheid, Tutu led the country’s Truth and  Reconciliation Commission which granted amnesty from prosecution to  anyone who confessed crimes to maintain or fight the Whitesupremacist  regime. But it was his early struggles for justice that won him, in  1984, the Nobel Peace Prize.

Tutu  continues to speak for peace and justice, including about ecological  devastation in Alberta’s tar sands, the occupation of Palestine, and the  international campaign to cure HIV/AIDS and help all afflicted by the  disease. He’s the author or co-author of nine books, including No Future without Forgiveness, God is Not a Christian, and God Has a Dream.

Tutu and his wife Leah founded the non-profit Desmond Tutu  Peace Centre, which works to create “a society that nurtures tolerance  and understanding amongst all people and is guided by … the building  blocks for sustainable peace: Love, Hope, Tolerance, and Courage.”

He  spoke in Edmonton at the Jubilee Auditorium for the first annual  University of Alberta Visiting Lectureship in Human Rights on November  29, 1998. He discussed the horrors of apartheid, the racial divide in US  culture, the link between racism and homophobia + sexism, and the power  of youth to change the world.

If  you’re listening to MF GALAXY on radio, you can download the  full-length version of the podcast right now. Just go to MF GALAXY.org,  iTunes, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, Player FM, or patreon.com/mfgalaxy.

A warning: the beginning of Tutu’s comments includes a disturbing description of police torture and murder during apartheid.

tutu.org




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STAR WARS ROGUE ONE REVIEWED WITH SUZETTE CHAN + STEPHEN NOTLEY (MF GALAXY 102)

 
 
WHAT STUNNING SURPRISES DOES THE FILM CREATE? A RACIALLY DIVERSE CAST BUT HOW GOOD ARE THE CHARACTERS? WHO’S BETTER—REY OR JYN? WHOSE CAMEOS ARE THE BEST? HOW DOES IT STACK AGAINST THE FORCE AWAKENS? 
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Reviewing  the film with me—as recorded live at Happy Harbor Comics —are Suzette  Chan, the Features Editrix for SequentialTart.com  (a webzine by women  who are fans of comics and pop culture), and Stephen Notley, a game  designer at PopCap and the creator of Bob the Angry Flower .

This reviews contains MAJOR SPOILERS.

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SHAWNA LEMAY ON BEAUTY, CONCISION, ACCESSIBILITY, AND HOW SHE MADE $1000 IN ONE YEAR FROM POETRY (MF GALAXY 101)

 
POETRY AS A DAILY PRACTICE IN SEARCH OF BEAUTY, WHY CREATIVE CLASSES FAIL, BAD EDITORS, BEING AN INTROVERT WHO PERFORMS
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“Shawna Lemay is the author of the recently released novel, Rumi and the Red Handbag  which made Harper’s Bazaar’s #THELIST (must-reads for Fall 2015), the  “Most Anticipated” list on the popular Canadian book website, 49th  Shelf, and was selected for Maria Shriver's fall reading club. Nathalie Atkinson chose Rumi and the Red Handbag for Fall's Must-Read Fashion Books in the Globe and Mail.

“She has also written six books of poetry, a book of essays, and an experimental novel titled, Hive, which is about the possibility of the existence of a woman art forger. All the God-Sized Fruit, her first book, won the Stephan G. Stephansson Award and the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award. Calm Things: Essays was shortlisted for the Wilfred Eggleston Award for Non-Fiction. She  has an M.A. in English from the University of Alberta. She writes a  weekly blog titled, Calm Things. 

“Rumi and the Red Handbag follows  the lives of Shaya and Ingrid-Simone, working together one winter at a  second- hand clothing shop. Theodora’s Fine Consignment Clothing shop  becomes a small world where Shaya, an academic who abandoned studying  the secrets of women writers, finds in Ingrid-Simone a reason to begin  writing again, on scraps of paper and post-its. Fresh, unique and  intelligent, Rumi and The Red Handbag is a journey to the  Museum of Bags and Purses in Amsterdam, a journey to find Rumi, the  soul, and the secret hidden in a red handbag.”

Lemay  joined me live onstage at Authorpalooza 2 at Cha Island Tea Company in  Edmonton’s Old Strathcona district on December 2, 2014. She talked  about:
  • How to make poetry accessible
  • Where creative writing classes go wrong
  • The critical importance of condensing
  • Editors—when they hurt, and when they help
  • And how she made up to $1000 per year at poetry
But  we began by discussing poetry as a daily practice and why she is  compelled to create verse.

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shawnalemay.net
transactionswithbeauty.com
soundcloud.com/shawna-lemay


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Wednesday, December 07, 2016

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BABYLON 5 REVISITED WITH J. MICHAEL STRACZYNSKI + MIRA FURLAN (MF GALAXY 100)


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SF can attempt to predict the future, but since Jonathan Swift invented SF with Gulliver’s Travels, an adult political satire that I’d call the original Star Trek, SF has delivered its most enduring and provocative works by analysing the ethical content of the present. But Star Trek became so dominant on US TV through reruns and then resurrection as Star Trek: The Next Generation that it became a force stifling creativity.

The boldest, most innovative, and most influential counter to Star Trek dominance was Babylon 5,  the 1993 to 1998 series that introduced the longform story arc with a  predetermined beginning, middle, and end to US television. Set in the  twenty-third century, the story was of the fifth and final Babylon  station, a galactic UN created to end the cataclysmic wars and  colonisations in which the cerebral and spiritual Minbari had nearly  annihilated Humans, the humanoid Centauri whose empire was in advanced  decline, and the reptilian and vengeful Narn who had thrown off Centauri  subjugation.

Also involved  were two mysterious races: the Vorlons, so alien they could barely be  understood, and a shadowy race whose existence was unknown to most  species, even while their power soon would be. Mixed into the five-year  story arc were queer characters, old and new human religions, a Jewish  funeral, a species change, political assassinations, allegories for  racism, and the rise of fascism on Earth.
Babylon 5 offered stakes that Star Trek  never had, and better yet, played them out for five seasons to results  that television had never attempted. It was a long-overdue revival of  science fiction TV.

From 1987 to 1994, Star Trek: The Next Generation  had presented a 24th Century humanity that, by means unexplained, had  stripped itself of its most enduringly toxic social and individual  problems. In the Next Generation world, humans didn’t wage war  against other humans, did not practice labour, racial, or sexual  oppression or exploitation, or destroy ecosystems. The Next Generation  presented a future in which “we”—the assumed Euro-American audience for  whom the show was created—could do no wrong as a society; only aberrant individuals could cause suffering.

So the major sources of misery, degradation, and tyranny were alien societies. Given that Star Trek’s  major social allegory was that the Federation, or at least humanity,  was the United States, and that the Klingon Empire was the Soviet Union,  the view that it’s always the aliens’ fault is an inherently  xenophobic, jingoistic, and racist vision of the real world.

But Babylon 5 didn’t accept such simplistic and ugly ideas, and the space epic shows that followed B5’s lead, especially Farscape and Battlestar Galactica,  seem to have taken its lessons, including by having more female main  characters who actually drove the plot and had significant backstories  that also drove the story’s direction.

In the episode “By Any Means Necessary,” Babylon 5 presented labour struggle on its station a decade before Battlestar Galactica dramatised the issue; similarly, B5 presented its military personnel wearing civilian clothes when they were off-shift, which virtually never happened in Trek, but later happened in Battlestar Galactica.

B5  presented not just a multiracial but a multireligious future for humans  and aliens. Commander Sinclair studied under Jesuits; Lt. Commander  Susan Ivanova was not religious but culturally was Jewish-Russian, and  after her father’s death, sat Shiva with her family rabbi in the episode  “TKO.”

In today’s episode of MF GALAXY, you’ll hear my conversations with two key figures behind B5:  Joseph Michael Straczynski, and Mira Furlan. Joe Straczynski, or just  plain JMS was a successful television writer on shows such as Murder, She Wrote before he launched B5.  Before the days when creative producer/head writers were called show  runners, JMS single-handedly wrote 92 of the series’ 110 episodes, and  drafted the overarching plot for the entire five-year epic before the  first frame was shot. He later co-created Sense8 with the Wachowskis, and wrote the screen stories for World War Z and Thor among other works.

Mira  Furlan is the celebrated Yugoslavian stage and screen actor who played  the Minbari Ambassador Delenn, after Furlan left her war-torn homeland.  She’s best known in North America for playing Rousseau in Lost, and she’s also appeared on NCIS and Law & Order: LA.

Twenty-two  years ago in 1994, JMS spoke with me by telephone from his production  office in Los Angeles, just before season 2 began airing, and we  recorded the call at CJSR FM88 in Edmonton. Mira Furlan spoke with me at  the Earth Station Convention in 1997 in south Edmonton just before she  left for the airport.

You’ll  notice throughout today’s discussion, that JMS and I both say  variations on the phrase “in other SF shows” when the SHOW THAT MUST NOT  BE NAMED was definitely Star Trek. That deliberate phrasing was just as common in the Making of Babylon 5 half-hour special that aired when B5 launched, so as to avoid stoking the Trek-Always-and-Only kneejerk reaction of some fans.

While  today it might seem laughable, twenty years ago SF screen fandom was  infected with tribalism. Many fans couldn’t wrap their brains around the  idea that you could publicly state that you liked two different story  worlds at the same time. Maybe that began with Stan Lee hyping Marvel  versus DC, as if liking DC was akin to pledging allegiance to a national  enemy, or at least a group of stodgy idiots. But even now, of course,  some of that lunacy remains. In fact, as Gamergate and the Hugo Wars  demonstrated, it actually got worse. Some might say it metastasised into  the US presidential election.

We began with JMS about why he wanted Babylon 5 to fall where it did on the predictive versus allegorical scale of science fiction.

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To  hear more than an hour of bonus content for this episode, including  more discussion with JMS and Mira Furlan, and my feature-length  conversation with Bob the Angry Flower cartoonist Stephen Notley—because  he and I were both big fans of B5 when it came out--click on the Patreon link to become a sponsor for a dollar or more per week.

And  hey, with Christmas coming, how about sharing some of that holiday  generosity by becoming a sponsor of MF GALAXY? Just click here to become a sponsor for 99 cents or even  25 cents per show. You’ll be supporting my weekly work to bring you  outstanding interviews with amazing authors, academics, activists,  actors, avengers, artists, and Africentrists! And for a buck a show,  you’ll get access to scores of extended editions of the show with tons  of great advice for new and mid-career writers seeking to up their game.  This holiday season, help a brother out!

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The Making Of Babylon 5

JMS on why Michael O’Hare left Babylon 5

Michael O’Hare convention appearance

How I drank more to overcome alcoholism | Claudia Christian | TEDxLondonBusinessSchool

Video tribute
Michael O'Hare (Station Commander Jeffrey Sinclair), Jerry Doyle (Security Chief Michael Garibaldi), Richard Biggs (Dr. Stephen Franklin), Andreas Katsulas (G’kar), Jeff Conaway (Security officer Zach), Johnny Sekka (Dr. Benjamin Kyle), Tim Choate (Zathrus), Paul Williams (General Franklin), and Robin Sachs (ensemble member)