Functioning Through the Fear: A Conversation With John Balser

(Widge’s note: This interview is about the COVID-19 pandemic. It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: nothing in this needs to be considered medical advice, and this is not a substitute for keeping up to date on the latest scientific findings on your own. This pandemic is an ongoing, ever-changing situation. So wear a mask, keep your social distancing game on point, educate yourself, and be safe out there.)

Recently Thespia sat down with John Balser of the Army Medical Specialist Corps to talk about the COVID-19 phenomenon, how to encourage your brain to work for rather than against you in threatening situations, and what we can learn from members of the military about not only surviving, but remaining functional through the fear that accompanies a long-term danger scenario.

PLEASE NOTE: Our guest is speaking as a private citizen who has a military and medical background.  His words should in no way be construed as official messaging from the U.S. government, armed forces, or any other agency.  

A Conversation with Orphan Black Showrunner Graeme Manson

Orphan Black logo

Orphan Black is the story of a woman who watches herself die.

Wait, that’s not quite it.

Orphan Black is the story of a mother struggling to connect with her child. Or is that two mothers? Or three? Four mothers? Two Children? Hm.

Orphan Black is the story of eight clones, living together, under one roof… No, wait, that’s also wrong.

Developed for television by Graeme Manson and John Fawcett and airing on BBC America in the US, and Space in Canada, Orphan Black explores questions of choice, identity, free will, technological progress and freedom and belief, in a setting and with a cast which make every beat intense and every conversation as terse, or endearing, or incredulously aware of itself as it needs to be. Orphan Black is a story that asks the question, “What would you do if you knew, in your heart, in your mind, in your very being, that you were unique, original, you… and then found out that you weren’t quite as you as you thought you were?”

I recently got the opportunity to have a talk with head writer and co-showrunner Graeme Manson about the philosophical concepts, world events, and other wells from which he draws in order to craft the arc or Orphan Black‘s story. Why don’t we let him tell you what it’s all about:

(more…)

An Interview With Kim Boekbinder about Space

Kim Boekbinder

I first heard of and met Kim Boekbinder in 2008, when she and her sister Zoe appeared as the sister-cabaret duo Vermillion Lies, accompanying Amanda Palmer on her first solo US tour (That’s also the year I first encountered The Builders and the Butchers, but that’s another interview). Their songs were vibrant, funny, heart-wrenching, memorable, and very, very good. As I listened to all of their albums, I began to get a sense of each sister’s lyrical voice and tone. Eventually, as the two moved on to their own solo careers, they developed and expanded those voices independently.

Just now, Kim has been working on a new album about space, collaborating with astronomers, physicists, and people who are just plain interested in the subject. She’s been funding the project through Kickstarter, and has been providing regular updates to fans and supporters.

Recently, I got the opportunity to ask Ms. Boekbinder some questions about her work, the focus of her current project, and the shape of crowdfunding today.

(more…)

An Interview with Comics Creator Jared Axelrod

[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”]
Jared Axelrod

Photo of Jared Axelrod, by J.R. Blackwell.

A few weeks back, I hadn’t slept well in days, and I came up with and posted the following:

STUPID IDEA ALERT! I’m REALLY FUCKING TIRED and so offering to creatives on my list SLEEP DEPRIVED INTERVIEWS!

Want to talk about your upcoming project release? Well cool! We might do that! Or I could spend several minutes asking you about what you see in specific directions, in the room you’re in! WHO KNOWS?!

I know a few people working on things, but this goes out to Anybody on my friends list.

BUT BE AWARE BEFORE YOU SAY YES: I am VERY serious about this being completely chaotic. I’m VERY tired, w/ a shit ton to do, & need to keep my mind active.

ALTERNATELY! Anyone can interview me. About what? WHO KNOWS! I got lots going on. Same goes for my answers as my questions, so… Yeah.

(more…)

A Conversation With Chef Keith Schroeder of High Road Craft Ice Cream

Chef Keith Schroeder of High Road Craft Ice Cream, Atlanta

When we first stumbled across High Road Craft Ice Cream, it was almost as if they were targeting us specifically. As stated in our initial review, when you have “caffeine” in the name of your ice cream flavor, prepare for me to get engaged. And we’ve been hooked ever since. It’s been fascinating to watch the company explode–indeed, between the first time we visited them for their factory tour a few months back to just a few weeks ago when we went back for this interview…if it hadn’t been the same front of the building, you could have convinced me we were in a completely different space. They’re recreating themselves to deal with their increasing demand. And good on them. Here we got the opportunity to chat with Chef Keith Schroeder about…a little bit of everything.

Widgett Walls: So you got started as an ice cream creator/supplier for restaurants only. Can you tell us about that?

Chef Keith Schroeder: We didn’t have intention to raise a lot of money, so we raised $250K to get the business off the ground…[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][that’s the equivalent of] a nice house, you know? And it was sufficient…it was sufficient to buy the machinery, hire the first couple of people, roll up your sleeves and…and make it happen. What happened was we…we kind of plateaued fast in the food service side of things–restaurants aren’t doing that well as a category in the Atlanta area (or in the [rest of the] country, for that matter). When I talk to my suppliers about what’s going on in food service out there, hotels that used to be really robust this time of year with tons and tons of parties are not–I imagine Papa John’s is doing real well right now. This time of year, right? And so things have devolved a bit. But what we found in our discovery–that food service isn’t doing as well as we would all hope it to be (I mean, my background is as a chef, so I’m sad…I’m sad that restaurants aren’t doing awesome)…[but] retail’s actually doing pretty well. And not only is retail doing well–our category in retail is doing incredibly well…it’s up like 16% year-to-date as a category. So Haagen Dazs, Ben & Jerry’s, and such–because people aren’t going out to eat, so people say “Let’s rent a movie on Netflix and we’ll each get a pint of our favorite stuff.” So that’s our big discovery and learning. So our plan was: go get food service in the Southeast and do business with this-and-this distributor, and we did it! And they were like, “Now what?” “There’s not enough money in that!”

(more…)