Like I said in Part 1, I listen to a lot of podcasts during the week. As you may have gleaned from the title, this batch is mostly about movies.
Why I Listen: Two black women talking about various aspects of the horror genre, what’s not to love? Movie reviews get 2 ratings – 1 for the overall movie; 1 for character diversity.
Fav Episodes: Any of Them
The Scream Squad is a bi-weekly horror podcast hosted by Jamie Righetti and Chico Leo which digs into the deeper issues at play in our favorite scary movies.
Why I Listen: Because I sometimes wonder how gentrification impacts the plot of a haunted house movie.
Len Webb and Vince Williams are on The Micheaux Mission – to watch and review every Black feature film ever released.Frequently include guests.
Why I Listen: Because I like black movies. (Be warned – one of these fellas does not acknowledge the glory of The Last Dragon.)
Fav Episodes: Definition of A Black Film | Love Jones | Eve’s Bayou
Cinemosity – Sharon, Kamille and Martin bring you a potent blend of celebrity gossip and rumor and reviews of b-movies, bad movies, and genre film. Your weekly dose of Starlets, Slashers and Cyborgs!
Why I Listen: To keep up with movie news and lively discussion of (mostly bad) movies.
Fav Episodes: The Fog (horrible remake)
More podcasts to come…
Update – Even though it’s not a podcast, one of my favorite weekly sources for horror/sci fi entertainment news is Collider Nightmares:
Once upon a time (about a decade or so ago), I used to listen to radio while in the office. Online streaming meant I could slip on my headphones and have NPR in the background all day. Over time, I got tired of listening to the same voices and, when I finally got an iPhone, found myself navigating to podcasts.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some of my favorites. (In no particular order.)
Helga Davis is a probing conversation podcast which explores the provocative issues surrounding what it means to be an artist and a citizen in the 21st Century.
Why I Listen: The conversations are insightful and Helga’s voice is a relaxing combo of warmth, comfort and love.
Girl On Guy with Aisha Tyler is a show about art, culture, booze, comedy, family, physical injuries, psychological bruises, action movies, rock music, ninjas, zombies, failure, success, sacrifice, video games, and blowing shit up.
Why I Listen: Great conversations, get to know the “person” behind the star/persona
Hosted by award winning international journalist Esther Armah, The Spin is a weekly hour long podcast featuring women of color talking policy, social justice, race, sex, power.
Why I Listen: activists, artists, journalist and organizers talking about problems and solutions.
Fav Episodes: The Consent Convo series
Hosted by Jamie Broadnax, the founder of Black Girl Nerds, Get It Right analyzes pop culture through the lenses of justice, and particularly reproductive justice.
Why I Listen: Thought provoking discussions of pop culture. I hope they do a season 2.
Fav Episodes: Hip Hop’s History of Reproductive Justice
Misty Knight’s Uninformed Afro is a brand new podcast series that will explore the origin stories, character development, and story arcs of our favorite Black superheroines in comics.
Why I Listen: This is a brand new podcast, I’m looking forward to learning more about these characters.
Done with these? Move on to Pod Party 2.
Doublespeak, constant surveillance, alternative facts, the pursuit and maintenance of power at all cost… Of course, I’m talking about George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm. These books are just flying off of the shelves.
Animal Farm is one of my favorite books. It’s a tale about animals who revolt against the farmer who is oppressing them (forcing them into labor, killing them, etc) and what happens after they win. Driving off the humans is one thing, creating new rules to run the farm is another. In truth, it’s a story about the Russian Revolution (Lenin, Trotsky and the gang) but the allegory does not depend on your knowledge of Russian history to work.
If you are in an Orwellian frame of mind, here are some other media suggestions:
David Bowie’s Diamond Dogs and The 1980 Floor Show
At one time, David Bowie wanted to create a musical based on 1984 but the Orwell estate wasn’t interested. Those songs were incorporated into Diamond Dogs, an album that cast a very dark image of the future.
While the musical itself didn’t happen, you can get an idea of what Bowie was going for in The 1980 Floor Show (recorded over 3 days in October 1973):
Can you imagine what would happen if Monty Python got their hands on Orwell’s 1984 and made a movie? You don’t have to imagine–it kinda happened. In 1985, Terry Gilliam of Monty Python fame directed Brazil – a film that’s a spiritual cousin of 1984. See, a worker – a cog in the wheel of a totalitarian government tries to correct a mistake and all hell breaks loose:
*An alternative title for this post: They’ll Split Your Pretty Cranium And Fill It Full Of Air
Going into the school for the first time, Mary Jackson makes a shocking discovery…
Hampton High School was a dilapidated, musty old building.
A stunned Mary Jackson wondered: was this what she and the rest of the black children in the city had been denied all these years? This rundown, antiquated place? She had just assumed that if whites had worked so hard to deny her admission to the school, it must have been a wonderland. But this? Why not combine the resources to build a beautiful school for both black and white students? Throughout the South, municipalities maintained two parallel inefficient school systems, which gave the short end of the stick to the poorest whites as well as blacks. The cruelty of racial prejudice was so often accompanied by absurdity, a tangle of arbitrary rules and distinctions that subverted the shared interest of people who had been taught to see themselves as irreconcilably different.
–Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly, p 145
A collection of previously published stories, The Next Girl & Other Lesbian Tales is an eclectic mix of black lesbian fiction. These are stories of love, lust, desire, mystery, and revenge—with a touch of humor here and there.
There are two stories of “pure” erotica; sex is the engine driving the plot. In The Souvenir, a woman riding the subway gets a front row seat to a live sex show. In Just Desserts, the erotic potential of chance comes into play when a couple is stranded at an airport.
Several tales delve into the up-and-down nature of relationships. When Narcia loses her lust interest to her best friend in The Next Girl, long held resentments rise to the surface. After a disastrous day, lovers in The Getaway take an impromptu trip and reaffirm their commitment to each other.
In Losing Michelle, a horror writer wishes her partner would leave her alone—until the woman goes missing. Originally published under the pseudonym Evelyn Foster, In Remembrance of Her finds a woman negotiating with dark forces in a quest to save her lover. Despite rumors, Chante is drawn to the mysterious Diana in The One Who Got Away.
Themes of community and forgiveness are also explored. In Operation Butch Ambush, rival factions come together to save women from a nefarious group that reprograms butch lesbians who have strayed from strict gender roles. Aria comes home from a hellish week at work to a nasty surprise in Cat and Mouse. In The Homecoming, it’s a funeral that prompts Melanie to revisit the past and her fractured relationship with her family.
Also included are flash fiction pieces with bite. Famished and Witness are about different forms of hunger.
Spanning a decade, these pieces reflect the political and social realities of their times. For example, before same sex marriage or civil unions, a lesbian couple who wanted their union recognized in some legal capacity could get into a domestic partnership (if their municipality offered it).
I enjoyed writing these stories; I hope you enjoy reading them.
My story, Karma Suture, is one of 13 horror tales in Forever Vacancy – a brand new horror anthology featuring characters of color – out today, Friday the 13th.
Get a taste of the terror in the excerpt below.
Karma Suture excerpt:
“No photography allowed.” The husky voice came from the tall woman behind the front desk. She polished the mahogany wood, pausing to admire her reflection.
“I’d just like to take a picture of the fountain,” Stephanie said. She was annoyed at herself for not noticing the clerk before.
Stephanie approached the desk, sizing up this new obstacle. Was this woman with warm, cinnamon-colored skin dressing too young or too old for her age? She imagined that the black head wrap concealed a tangled mass of unkempt curls. When the clerk tilted her head down to meet her gaze, the silver hoops lining her ears clashed and clinked against each other. Her eyes, black and pupil-less, revealed nothing.
Shaking off her discomfort, Stephanie focused on the woman’s t-shirt. “Dyke and The Blazers? Is that a movie?”
“Band. Way before your time.” The clerk’s smile had a touch of menace. “Can I help you?”
“My name is Stephanie Boston. I’m a location scout for Bombast Films.” She pulled a business card from her purse and motioned toward a door in the back. “May I speak to the manager?”
“You’re speaking to Sybline Kretcher. the owner.” She tapped the gold plate bearing her name.
“Is it possible for me to take a quick look at a couple of rooms, look around outside and take some pictures? Currently, we are producing a feature film and would like to consider the Kretcher for one of our sets.”
“Want a room? You have to pay for it.”
“Ms. Kretcher, I just need a few minutes.”
“Mmhmm. Get a room for a few minutes and call your boyfriend over to do your business. I know that scam. You want a room, you pay for the whole night.” She chuckled to herself. “Have as many friends over as you want.”
Rather than protest, Stephanie took note of the posted rates and took out her wallet. The misidentification amused her. When she got back to her real life, this was one of the stories she’d tell—how, despite her professional demeanor, the owner of a no-star motel thought she was a prostitute.
The reception had been more welcoming at the other motels she visited. Other managers had given her tours of the property. The men were eager to show off their southern charm to a Yankee.
Stephanie handed over cash and was presented with a guestbook. She signed it and received a silver key with the number 228 etched in it. Sybline leaned back, satisfied. “Elevator is to your right. Do enjoy your stay.”
While waiting for the elevator, Stephanie thought she could squeeze the front desk and the proprietor into a shot if she took a selfie. As she lifted her phone, Sybline appeared on screen directly behind her. She yelped and whirled around. Sybline was at the desk talking to another customer.
The elevator doors opened and Stephanie ran inside. The last picture taken was a blur of her palm.
Want to find our what surprises are waiting for Stephanie in room 228? Read Forever Vacancy.
Happy New Year! I hope you have a light-filled and prosperous 2017.
To start off the new year, I am publishing The Next Girl & Other Lesbian Tales. Here is where you can find most of my previously published short stories gathered together in one place.
This eclectic mix of black lesbian fiction includes erotica, mystery, suspense, new twists on old relationship drama and a bit humor.
In Pat Greene: Her Story by Anondra Williams, an elderly Pat looks back over her life and shares stories of love, loss, heartbreak and laughter.
A black lesbian in 1950’s rural Mississippi, Pat was kicked out of the house at 17 because her mamma disapproved of her nasty ways. She started out as a naive country girl trying to survive on her own. She searched for community, a family and a girlfriend. Pat talks about everything.
From the cramped house parties where you had to know somebody who knew somebody to get in–to being in relationships long after they’ve soured. Sometimes, Pat didn’t feel safe anywhere–not at home, not at work, not in her own skin. (If you are a black and/or lgbtq reader, it won’t be lost on you how some of those struggles are still present–marriage equality aside.)
Pat has a down-home, tell it like it is kind of voice. Her stories are peppered with side-tales and funny observations about life. If you are looking for a voice and perspective usually missing from lgbtq literature, you should check it out.
You can hear this review on Anchor.
Listening to Hip Hop’s History of Reproductive Justice, the 2nd episode of the Get It Right podcast, brought back to mind a song that meant a great deal to me in the early 90s: None Of Your Business by Salt-N-Pepa.
Picture it: It’s 93/94, I’m in college and thinking a whole lot about my sexual orientation. What do you do when your realize that your attractions and desires run counter to all of the religious/political/social programming you’ve received? So, I was learning a foreign language (statistics), trying to get up the courage date girls and deal with internal conflict (who am I/who I’m expected to be).
Salt-N-Pepa’s None Of Your Business helped with one of those problems. If there ever was an anthem dismissing hypocrites who get off on regulating the sexuality/sensuality of others–this is it. This song was everything to me. Starting off from the intro: What’s the matter with your life / Why you gotta mess with mine / Don’t keep sweatin what I do / Cuz I’m gonna be just fine.
Now, of course the scenarios mentioned in the song are hetero — women being judged on their dealings with men. When I saw the video and my mind exploded: “oh my God, there are gay people in this. They are talking about me too!”
Check out the cluster of folks dancing/writhing and shouting “None Of Your Business!”
I felt so affirmed. This song wasn’t the only thing that helped me figure out that it was okay to be myself but it felt really good to have media/entertainment from black artists reflecting that too.
(See also: The Woman to Woman episode of Living Single.)
*Get It Right is a podcast that analyzes pop culture through the lenses of justice, and particularly reproductive justice.
Over the past week, I’ve been reading I’m Judging You: The Do Better Manual by Luvvie Ajayi and Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture by Ytasha L. Womack.
I’ve been a fan of Luvvie’s blog, awesomelyluvvie.com, for a while; she’s a fun, witty writer. Even when she’s tackling hard and potentially draining subjects like racism, sexism, homophobia etc – she releases some tension with a zinger or two. The essays cover everything from hygiene to culture to social media etiquette and beyond.
The chapters on social media and internet fame should be required reading for teens/young adults before they are given free reign to interface with the internet. They would probably discard these words of wisdom at first–because, no matter how many signs, some people don’t know the stove is hot before getting burned–but it would be nice to have it to come back to after a troll is gloating and gleeful about their trauma.
Ytasha L. Womack’s Afrofuturism is a great introduction to the subject. It’s written for a general audience and covers the history and development of Afrofuturism in the US. It explores the concept through art/music/literature and cultural thought. This book isn’t an end–it’s a beginning. With every chapter, I’m jotting down notes about artists/thinkers/past conferences etc that I need to learn more about.
It also introduces ideas and questions that I’m still turning over in my mind. For example, the challenge of creating and envisioning a future in a world/society that wants desperately to erase your (and it’s own) past…
Both books highly recommended.