Category Archives: People

EPISODE 15: Crafting characters that can step from a book’s pages and walk down the street

Any day is a good day to profess affection… so—I admit—I’m in love. With books written by today’s guest! So, there’s this character named Elouise Norton who has captured my heart! Why? Because she’s so human… It’s like I know her.

I’m stoked that I got to interview her creator during a visit to Los Angeles!

Critically acclaimed crime fiction writer Rachel Howzell Hall is the author of several books, including the Lou Norton series, and another title They All Fall Down, which will be released on April 9.

We discuss a range of things from her origins as a writer, how she can explores through her characters, the dualities and unexpected realities of her page people—her characters, and more!

Take a listen to Rachel Howzell Hall on Planet Noun Episode 15!

Part 1—00:00-08:10
Where it all started

Part 1a—08:16-17:07 How a character, Detective Elouise Norton, was a tutor to Howzell Hall

Part 2—17:04-29:02
Characters you don’t expect… dualities and unexpected realities.

Part 3—29:05-36:20
Rachel’s journey toward crime fiction

Part 4—36:28-42:37
Reconciling characters and subject matter with a churchy upbringing

Part 5—42:40-end
Most gratifying moments as an author, and maximizing her time as an author who also has a family and a full time job

Links to stories mentioned in episode:

Torrance bowling alley shooting

Rachel’s social media links:

Instagram

Twitter

Website 

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Episode 14: Repackaging life and a museum—with George O. Davis, CAAM Executive Director

February is Black History Month in the United States…a time to focus on the contributions and achievements of African Americans not only in the past, but to hear stories of those who are still with us, still writing their stories.  George O. Davis is such a person. Part of his work involves helping  to expose museum visitors to the stories of others.

Part 1:

00:43—Davis’s Pathway to CAAM
==========

Part 2:

22:23—Rundown of the museum’s features and a few current exhibits.  By the time this episode drops, a couple of those will be on their last days. Here is a link list that includes information on the artists mentioned in this episode and exhibit dates:

An exhibit on the Los Angeles Freedom Rally. This took place in May of 1963. 

Robert Pruitt—Devotion — This exhibit ends on February 17, 2019.  Here’s what the Los Angeles Times says about his work.

One of the past art exhibits at CAAM featured Nina Chanel Abney.

African American artists Davis mentions who are being featured at other museums in the city. 

Los Angeles County Museum of Art—Charles White: A Retrospective

Bruce’s Beach in Manhattan Beach, Calif. was talked about in this episode.  More on its history along with another area black beachgoers used to frequent in the Santa Monica area called The Inkwell.

Part 3: 

24:56—Davis talks about:

  • The importance of expanding the knowledge of black history among and beyond black folks
  • Museums as a way to increase that knowledge
  • Visiting such Places with an open mind
  • Taking in the Things—the exhibits, information, art, the facts and Ideas they convey
  • Acknowledging the facts of history and reckoning with that information to grow beyond our country’s ills…past and present. 

Other links related to this episode:

History of CAAM

More on George Davis’ s appointment as CAAM executive director

CAAM Social Media:

Instagram

Facebook

Twitter

YouTube

Bruce’s Beach in Manhattan Beach, Calif. was talked about in this episode.  More on its history along with another area black beachgoers used to frequent in the Santa Monica area called The Inkwell.

Other mentions in Episode 14:

The Broad 

Davis also talks about a multi-million dollar painting purchased by Sean Combs (After all these years, I still instinctively call him Puff Daddy. Well, looks like he’s Art Daddy now!)

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EPISODE 3—Balikbayan Boxes: Care Packages in Reverse with Jason Reblando (Repeat)

Since Christmas is around the corner, here’s a question for you: 

What’s the value of a can of Ensure? Spam? Or a pack of Doritos or other snack you can pick up during a Target run or at the corner store?

Well, if you’re a member of the Filipino diaspora, everyday items, snacks and other treats can have additional meaning attached to them if they’re shipped to the Philippines from abroad in a Balikbayan Box. 

It’s a tradition I had no idea about until a year or so ago.  It was then I realized that—among all the groups of color I grew up around in Los Angeles—there are some folks whose traditions I’m more familiar with than others. I don’t pretend to know everything about anyone, but as an eternal student, learning as much as possible is a constant goal. It dawned on me last year that I knew next to nothing about the Filipino diaspora and Filipino Americans, and wanted to learn more. 

This-here interview was released last year, and was so interesting I wanted to share it again this year!

So if you’ve heard this before—welcome back, and stick around. If you’re hearing this for the first time, let’s dig into this holiday repeat of Planet Noun Episode 3—Balikbayan Boxes: Care Packages in Reverse with Illinois-based artist, photographer and author Jason Reblando.

Happy holidays! Merry Christmas, Happy everything! Take a listen to a holiday repeat of Episode 3, with guest Jason Reblando. He’s an Illinois-based artist, photographer, and author. Jason joined me on Skype.

This has been a holiday repeat of Episode 3 with guest Jason Reblando, an Illinois-based artist, photographer, and author. He was on Skype.

Here’s a link to Jason’s article about Balikbayan Boxes on City Lab.

Learn more about Jason, his book projects and artwork on his website.

Find him on social media:

Twitter: @JasonReblando

Instagram: @jjrebs

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EPISODE 12: Getting all up in the family’s body business on Thanksgiving


Thanksgiving is almost here! That means it’s almost time to throw down on all those bounties that’ll grace our holiday tables this week!

Thanksgiving is also Family Health History Day… A time to discuss and learn more…. Diseases or health events that tend to run in your family…

Yeah… I know that  is NOT a sexy discussion to have while passing the lamb, ham, turkey, chicken, greens, potatoes, tomatoes—you name it.

But if you’re family is gathering for this holiday or any other one—could be an opportune time to consider easing in those not so appetizing discussions about your family health portrait…. Just try to time it when Cousin so-and-so is NOT about to fork a piece of sweet-tater pie in their mouth.

My guest today is Doctor LaKeischa McMillan… she hosts the Housecall with Dr. Mac Podcast… In addition to doctoring, she also mothers and wifes (It’s my podcast, I can make up words). The cast is a joint venture with her husband, Wendell.

So Dr. Mac joins us with the skinny… or the fat—depending on how you throw down in the kitchen—on having unsexy conversations about family health during Thanksgiving or any season when family gathers.

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Cancer’s wiggety-wackness, gratefulness…and prayer (yes, this post will make sense)

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, PGFD firefighter Jesse McCullough, his wife and one of his daughters at a Sunday afternoon fundraiser to help defray costs of McCullough’s cancer treatment. Gov. Hogan heard about the event and stopped by to offer emotional support. Hogan also fought cancer for about a year and a half. His diagnosis came just several months after his inauguration in 2015.

(At the Water’s Edge, Maryland) — Grateful. I’m deeply grateful that folks allow me into their time and spaces to ask questions and be nosey in both good and extremely difficult times.

Some folks I cover for work really resonate my heart strings. From Brandi Garrett at The Maddy Wagon whose daughter, Madison, is a childhood cancer survivor…to Roya Giordano and family who lost their teen son/brother Mathias to bone cancer. 

Earlier today for work, I got to cover a fundraiser for a firefighter who is battling colon cancer. It has spread…He says the chemo seems to be holding it at bay right now, but he told me it isn’t curable so he’s essentially buying more time to be able to spend with his wife and watch his daughters grow some more…He’s looking into clinical trials in the D.C. area and in Boston, but isn’t eligible for any of those until all other treatment options are exhausted.

So….Since my blog is a personal project, and because it’s no secret I want everyone to be happy and healed, I have requests:

  • If you are a praying person, pray.
  • If you only put positive thoughts & speech into the universe, do that.
  • If you do none of the above, just hope for the best so Prince George’s County firefighter Jesse McCullough gets better. 
  • If you know a phalanx of prayer warrior grannies or aunties who always smell of peppermints and/or wear white gloves to their houses of worship even in the summer heat…ask.them.to.pray.  Not just any grannies or aunties. The ones who call everyone either “sweetie,” “dear heart,” or “baby”…(pronounced BEHHH-buh) or some other variation.  That encompasses a wide variety of grannies/aunties of different backgrounds with only the sweetest levels of sweetness.

Big G upstairs be listening to them, for real. 

 #McCulloughStrong

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Aretha

Yes, it was imminent.

Yes, it was coming down the pike, as it is for us all.

But there’s still a hefty morsel of numbness that nestles itself in my soul for a little bit once I hear someone’s life exit is final.

Been kind of blah all day.

Been trying to put words to my feelings.  Trying. Still not there yet.

Why will I miss Queen Aretha?

She was the only artist who could make me raise a hand, and say a heartfelt Hallelujah for ALL the life reasons Click To Tweet

Because she was who she was.  She earned first name only status with an exclamation point (ARETHA!) AND ascended to royalty  (Queen of Soul).

Because she played a role in the Civil Rights Movement and helped others. Much-much respect!

Last but not least, I’ll miss her for accompanying us through the human experience.  She was the only artist who could make me raise a hand,  and say a heartfelt “Hallelujah” for ALL the life reasons: From “Precious Lord” and “Mary Don’t You Weep,” to “Bridge over Troubled Water”…

And from “Daydreaming” to “Son of a Preacher Man,” and “Dr. Feelgood,” which could be the reason some of y’all exist today.

There was only one Aretha.

Missed, she will be.

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Episode 10: She ain’t no one trick pony: Behold, Stacia who doeth many things Wright

Our guest for Episode 10 is one of those people who does many things well! Her name’s Stacia D. Wright, an event and media strategist and owner of B. Reel Media Management, LLC. As I’ve said in previous episodes, small business owners fascinate me because of the risks they take and lessons they’re open enough to learn in order to keep progressing along the entrepreneurial pathway.

@StaciaDWright has a thing or three to say about knowing your worth, the value of your time and what you bring to any table. If you want to start your own business, her reminder: Working for others has invaluable lessons as well. Click To Tweet

Through her business experiences, Stacia has a thing or three to say about knowing your worth, the value of your time and what you bring to any table. If you want to start your own business, her reminder: Working for others has invaluable lessons as well.

In addition to running B. Reel Media Management, Stacia is a wife and mommy. She’s even made a video to help teach her daughter Ginneh how to potty, and was surprised when the tune traveled around the globe to other parents having a doozy of a time teaching their young-uns how to independently use the toilet. Stacia also appeared on a local television station, and the video was featured on the websites of other media outlets as well.

Fox5DC
Today
Daily Mail

Connect with Stacia on social media:

Facebook: @StaciaDWrightofficial / @TheDriveSDW

Twitter: @TheDriveSDW

Instagram: @StaciaDWright

Episode Receipts/Mentions:

The Stacia D. Wright Show on Brite Radio Son Screen Film Festival

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Episode 8: Sixahwe Naturals–hand-making the future with vegan body products

Small business owners are fascinating because of their courage… or what I perceive as courage. Who knows, maybe some are faint of heart. 

But I doubt that. 

Why? 

Because when anyone ventures and goes against the grain of employee-dom (did I just make up a word?) there’s a risk of failure. Yes, there’s a risk with being an employee, but in my mind, it seems the uncertainty is greater for business owners. If you get fired from your job you can blame your wack boss…your fellow employees who are trying to do you in (whether that’s perceived, real or downright wrong). But absent environmental disasters, floods or other things out of your control, who you ‘gon’ blame if your business flops?  Seems that  losing a company of any size would be a hit to the spirit…so hard you’d need to duct tape and air pump your poor spirit daily just to get out of bed in the morning. 

That’s why small biz owners fascinate me. They’re willing to confront that risk every-durn-day. 

Like Ayanna Alexander of Sixahwe Naturals.  She makes products to keep the skin away from the throes of crust-ashiness.

Learn about the origin of the company name, why they decided to go into business, and an important lesson she learned about how to avoid getting pissed-off at your passion.

During this episode, there were a couple of references that you may or may not be familiar with. Ayanna mentioned two schools during our talk. One was an HBCU called Oakwood University,and a private high school based in Takoma Park called Takoma Academy.

Thanks for listening to Planet Noun!  The next episode drops in a couple of weeks!  

For more Planet Noun, follow on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Guest: Ayanna Alexander, founder of Sixahwe Naturals—handmade soaps, lotions, body butter and more!

Hosted by: Liz Anderson

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Hitman tour leaves behind musical slayage in D.C.’s Warner Theater

WASHINGTON—God created music, dammit. I’m convinced. And he, she…or he and she…or it or them-there… they put a bunch of it on display last night when David Foster’s Hitman Tour hit D.C.’s Warner Theater.

David Foster is not, as James Comey might say, “out breaking legs and– you know, shaking down shopkeepers.” Nothing like that. This Hitman slays our hearts by taking shaped notes and cranking out hit after hit over decades—so many that you might not know how much this man’s musical footprint has pitter-pattered over your life’s soundtrack.

And it was a great show—aptly titled “An Intimate Evening with David Foster.”

An intimate feel it had with the Warner Theater’s ornate architecture and cozy seating.

Foster accompanied all of us down memory lane with with a team of fantabulous singers. They were EXCELLENT. “I wish I could sing like that,” Foster joked during the set, “then I wouldn’t need them.” He did croon lines from some of his beloved hits as well. And he’s needed, because no one can write what he writes how he writes it.

LAWDY-BE it was a good show! I just hope the adorable 70-something year old blonde lady sitting next to me didn’t think I was too loud when I got all happy and started shouting “YAAAAASSSSS” like I was up in church or something. She didn’t complain.

She also didn’t look 70. But she did tell me she retired from the CIA. #random

Sooooo… I’m a little biased about which of Foster’s guests I enjoyed most. Don’t get me wrong—I enjoyed them ALL. Fernando Varela and Pia Toscano can sing like NOBODY’s business! Whew! But Shelea blew the roof off the motha-sucka!

“I don’t understand why someone like her doesn’t have a show in her own right. She’s good,” CIA seat-neighbor told me.

“Best of all,” I replied, “she’s a genuinely nice person.”

Of course, of all the people on that stage, she’s the only person I have any experience with…  I don’t count the 25 seconds I stood next to David Foster–long enough to take a photo after a session at the NAB Radio Show in San Francisco in…2000, I think. Still have that photo somewhere… ##random

Lookie-here
The Hitman tour isn’t over. There are still some dates coming up in Florida. If you’re nearby—or not—airplanes still work, lol!

And if you can’t make it, just Google samples of Varela, Toscano, and Shelea. If you ever see them live—methinks it’ll be worth it.

Shelea:

Fernando Varela:

Pia Toscano:

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Podcast Episode 2: Cancer has no couth or sense of timing

Cancer is rude. It doesn’t ask anyone if they want its company, won’t ask you “Hey, can I come on over to your place and hang out for awhile?”

Nope. That would be polite.  (As if you would tell it yes if it did ask–I know I sure wouldn’t.) Cancer just raps on your door, taps on your window pane, and then walks or climbs right into your life. Loud and ill-timed. Of course, there never is a good moment for cancer to come on by. Ever. It just shows up, sits on your couch, puts its muddy shoes on your ottoman,  eats up all the food, hides the TV remote and then doesn’t even bother to help clean up.

If cancer were polite, it wouldn’t be cancer.  It wouldn’t strike fear and apprehension into the hearts and minds of those who must confront it and those who hope it never comes their way.

For Brandi Garrett and her husband, this battle was a family affair. They and their children embarked on this journey when one of their daughters, Madison, received an unwanted diagnosis.  Maddy was three years old when they learned she had cancer… Stage IV.

Listen as Brandi recounts  Madison’s journey:

Thanks for listening to Episode 2: Cancer has no couth or sense of timing.  Here are a couple-more notes to keep in mind:

The Maddy Wagon is active year round.  Visit the website to learn more about the organization started in Madison’s name, and to obtain more information about their yearly gift giveaway –Christmas Maddy Wagons of H.O.P.E., which stands for Happiness, Optimism, Peace and Excitement.

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