Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival Podcast

One of the many post-film Q&A sessions of PAAFF
Here is the Citywide Blackout podcast from the annual Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival. I had the chance to attend the festival and speak to some of the amazing creatives who brought there drama, horror, documentary, comedy, and much more to the big screen. For this podcast, I spoke to:

-Alex Chu, writer and director of “For Izzy”

-Brett Kodama, writer and director of “Heartseeker” 

-Isaac Ho'op'i, subject of the documentary “Corridor Four”

-Pratima Agrawal, a Philadelphia-based performing artist who wrote, directed, and performed “Voided”

-Jun Stinson, writer and director of the documentary “Futbolistas 4 Life”

I want to offer my thanks to Rob Buscher, the festival director, for allowing me to cover the event and for his help with the interviews.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Rhode Island Comic-Con, Part 3

Our final episode of Citywide's Rhode Island Comic-Con coverage features interviews with authors R.K. Bentley and L.L. Craft

R.K. has a new book out, “Where Weavers Daire,” first book in a series. The book blends sci-fi with fantasy elements, and is set 10 years after a devastating war. Three characters, a salvager, technomage and necromancer, find themselves on a course to Stuk's Hollow, where a New Year's celebration is bring something most unexpected.

L.L. has a new book out as well, “Trial By Fire,” which continues the story of Abigail Lefay. Mafia lieutenant Donnie Bellino, assassin Dracul Abati, and cult leader Maxime Ruine all want her head, but she's not the type to run and hide.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Nov. 29, 2018: Sofia Lee Davis/Jun Stinson/Anastasia Goodman/Michael Squatrito

Sofia Lee Davis
Country artist Sofia Lee Davis returns to Citywide to talk about her newest single, “I Don't Start Fights.” The timing of the song is talked about, given the current situation and the necessity of standing up for the underdog. While Sofia says she's not a fighter, she will take a stand when needed. She's also been playing a lot of shows, some down in Georgia, where she got to share a stage with the band Honey Candy, which she's been a huge fan of.

Filmmaker and journalist Jun Stinson is next, as part of our coverage of the recent Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival. Her movie, “Futbolistas 4 Life,” looks at the power of soccer and how it brings a group of students together. It takes viewers into the lives of two students, one a DACA applicant and the other an American citizen the daughter of undocumented parents. Jun talks about how she met the coach behind the Futbolistas program and how its benefited the community. We also talk about the politics at the time it was made and the impact it's having now.

Author Anastasia Goodman is next and this interview continues the series I've done on authors who will be at the annual Rhode Authors Island Expo, which takes place this weekend. She's got a new book out, “The Terrorist,” which continues her series featuring Sasha Perlov, a Russian-born NYPD detective. In this book, Sasha investigates a suspected terrorist. The book is set in 2004, and she talks about the time period the book takes place in and how this influences both the characters and the events in the story.

Michael Squatrito rounds things out with a deep dive into the world of the Rhode Island Author's Expo. Now in its sixth year, he walks me through the planning process and the many, many authors who will be there. The expo also features panels to help writers learn about the publishing world and things like developing characters and world-building.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Rhode Island Comic-Con, Part 2: Genevieve Marie/The Runners/Christa Carmen

Author Christa Carmen
Here's Round 2 of Max and Ben's coverage of the Rhode Island Comic-Con! 

Cosplayer Genevieve Marie talks about turning cosplay into a career and how internet has changed the old methods and given new options. She also shares a few icebreakers for meeting people at comic-cons. She was at RICC in part to represent Geekfest, a traveling geek show which recently completed its 2018 season.

Sean Wang, creator of The Runners comic series, shares the story behind this mix of comedy and action that brings some character drama and great banter together. Sean also talks about the characters that make up the series and how he balances his career in comics with the rest of his life.

Author Christa Carmen, in the guise of Lydia Deetz for this convention, walks us through the anthology collections that she's been a part of. Subjects include gothic horror, psychological and many others. She talks about how she became involved in the anthologies she's worked on and how folks can work with others.


Saturday, November 17, 2018

Album Review: The Galloping Hordes

The Galloping Hordes                                                                                                 10 tracks
Corners of Sanctuary

From the opening sound of horses thundering down a dirt road, you know this album’s gonna be good. “The Galloping Hordes” has an old-school feel to it, and for a dude nearing 40, that’s a welcome tune. I’ve got nothing against new sounds or styles, but I can remember the days I got my first Metallica album, and love hearing one that draws on the earlier years of metal. Epic guitar solos, vocals that sound impossible by human lungs, this one’s got a lot to offer.

The title track gets things off to a great start, and as I walk down the Philly streets I’m tempted to pump my fists in the air and call out. It’s easy to picture what a show with these guys would look like, and I can bet it’d be awesome.

What makes this work is that this Philly-based foursome isn’t doing what they do for the sake of being contrary. You can tell how much they love what they do, and that intensity is heard on each track. The vocals of Frankie Coss are so damn cool and the instrumentals of James Pera, Mad T, and Mick Michaels craft a battlefield with fists raised and swords held high. A Soldier’s Lost, The Bitter End, and Vengeance of the Warrior are my favorite songs. They’re these insane battle cries and would definitely elicit a call of “one more song!”

Hell yeah, one more song! 

Friday, November 16, 2018

Nov. 15, 2018: Chris Ruediger/Lucie Contente/For Izzy/Suzanne Gordon

Chris Ruediger, formerly of Boston, opens the show with a look at his time as a student in Nashville writing music and playing shows. He's got a lot of stories of the shows he's played and some of the venues he's been to, and also has some new music. Chris also talks about the various styles he's been playing and how he's developed as an artist. 

Author Lucie Contente is next in our series on writers in the Rhode Island Authors Expo. She's written two books on gluten-free cooking that take a deep dive into the lifestyle from all angles, from breakfast to dessert. She talks about her own experiences with having to live gluten and dairy-free and what she's learned from it.

Writer/director Alex Chu talks to Max from the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival about his feature, “For Izzy.” The movie centers on two young women—one with a troubled life who wants to make good and one who's been sheltered her entire life and craves independence. A lot of research went into this before the camera rolled, and Alex shares what was learned in that time. 

Wrapping up the is author/journalist Suzanne Gordon and her new book, “Wounds of War.” The book follows years of investigation into the Veterans Health Administration to see if the recent negative press about it is justified. What she learns is that while in need of improvement, the VHA is an organization that provides much-needed services for those that have served.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Rhode Island Comic-Con Part 1

Max with Cares O-Lot Cosplay
Welcome to the first episode of Citywide Blackout's podcast series from the Rhode Island Comic-Con. In these interviews Max and Ben talk to the cosplayers, writers, and other creatives that attend this convention to share their art with the public. 

In this episode, Max talks to the cosplay couple Hybrid Brieze (Briezerker and Hybrid Spyder) and learn about some of the duos they've portrayed over the years and some potential future ideas. Later on, Cares O-Lot Cosplay dons her Robin suit and talks about how she got her start in the cosplay world, how she learned to make her costumes, and the wide array of characters she's taken on.

Author Andi O'Connor walks us through the epic fantasy Dragonath Chronicles and other books she's written and talks about her “pantser” style of writing. She's got a new book coming out soon and has an online launch party planned for that.