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Word S9.6 – Lizzo, language and love usher in May

Coming up on this episode, musician Lizzo is the subject of a new graphic short story series.

Plus, a linguist argues for bad language … "Like, literally, dude."

And, a rapid-fire play examines the search for love and dignity by single Black females.  

Guest list

Oregon-based TidalWave Productions front man  Darren G. Davis joined us to discuss the latest in the “Female Force” graphic short story series.

And while, Davis is based in Oregon, Lizzo is a superstar and role model for many, including those in the Valley and state.

The book is illustrated by artist Pablo Martinena.

Since 2016, the company “has been publishing through Ingram and various other distributors. They continue to produce titles such as Female Force, Force of the Trojans, Soldier of Fortune, Juliet, Dorian Gray, Political Power among other titles. They are represented by The Bohemia Group in Los Angeles,” according to Wikipedia.

Davis described his initial spark for the series as a part of fan culture and how TidalWave choses its subject matter.

Professor of linguistics  Valerie Fridland teaches at the University of Nevada, Reno.

She recently released a fascinating book titled, “Like, Literally Dude: Arguing for the Good in Bad English.”

It weaves together history, psychology, science and laugh-out-loud anecdotes that explain why we speak the way we do.

For instance, early in the book, Fridland writes, “speech defines and is defined by the gender we identify with and the ideologies we operate under.” Early on, she highlights a dichotomy where men might drop an “F-bomb,” while women are likely to substitute the word “fudge.”

Although, she admitted that may not be a universal practice, including in her own family.

Her publicist writes, “[The book] is for anyone who is looking to communicate dynamically. Language impacts how we’re perceived by friends, employers, professors, and strangers. Whether someone is in school, on the job hunt, worried about their professional profile or at home raising kids, this book will help them better connect across generational or social divides.” 

Fridland also writes a popular language blog on “Psychology Today” called, “Language in the Wild.” 

Finally, a new production of “Single Black Female” runs May 12–14 at Phoenix Hostel, and then moves to Flagstaff from May 19– 21.

The play was written by Lisa B. Thompson and stars Phoenix-based actresses  Cynnita Agent and  Racquel McKenzie. It offers a rapid-fire examination of the search for love and dignity by single African American middle class women. The play is directed by Bray Lawrence and is presented as part of the Flagstaff Shakespeare Festival.

The pair discussed their favorite characters, themes explored by the playwright and what they hope audiences will take away from the production.

According to Thompson’s author website, “SBF 1, an English professor, and SBF 2, a corporate lawyer, keep each other balanced as they share their fears of rejection and reminisce about black girlhood wounds. The girlfriends are alter egos who discuss the absurdities of interracial dating and debate the merits of college reunions for bolstering one's self-esteem. After reviewing their escapades in past relationships and confessing mounting anxieties about future commitments they realize their best chance at love may be found closer than they ever imagined.”

A review of Black Theatre Troupe’s 2019 production of the play, which also featured Agent, described the performance as, “a surgical exercise, dissecting with laser-like and acerbic accuracy the stereotypes and expectations imposed upon SBF's — the gamut of possible other interpretations of the abbreviation spelled out in rib-tickling detail,” also according to Thompson’s website.

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Portions of this podcast have been nominated for Edward R. Murrow and Public Media Journalists Association awards.

We’re back at the end of May with our penultimate show for this season.

In the meantime,  email us about this particular episode or a suggestion for a future one.

Tom Maxedon was the host of KJZZ’s Weekend Edition from 2017 to 2024.