We love talking about food, but we have a tough time talking about eating. For some reason we are allowed to almost fetishize food, salivating over perfectly aesthetic photos of food but the moment that food touches our lips we are judged for it. And, naturally, the more layers of intersectional oppression you experience, the more you are judged for your food choices.  

Dr. Psyche Williams-Forson is Professor and Chair of the Department of American Studies at the University of Maryland College Park. Her research explores the ways in which Black people engage their material worlds, especially with food and food cultures as well as historical legacies of race and gender (mis)representation. She has conducted extensive research throughout the United States in this area using intersectionality, cultural studies, popular culture, and more to inform our understanding of these phenomena. She is the author of the new book Eating While Black: Food Shaming and Race in America. 

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Writing is a special kind of solitary torture. The only thing about it anyone ever sees is the end result, the finished, published work resting on shelves. In today's booktok culture, books are consumed at lightning speed and reviewers rush to deliver the most controversial hot take they can think of for engagement. Years of a person's life are spent writing the stories that become our blockbuster movies or our summer beach reads. Years spent alone in a room somewhere with a pen and paper or a keyboard tapping out scenes and dialogue only to scrap it all later and rewrite. Creating work, toiling over its perfection, and then navigating social media to spread the word is all part of the job of a writer these days, on top of all the other actual work the author must do to create something special.

It's agony. It's glorious. And, for some, it's incredibly rewarding. 

Ayana Gray's debut novel, Beasts of Prey, did something few debut authors achieve: it hit the New York Times bestseller list. Her follow up, Beasts of Ruin, is poised to do the same. (It's out today.) We sat down for a discussion on the work of writing, how that job has expanded, navigating how much of ourselves we give away, and how much we get to keep. 

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Help keep the show free and producing regularly by joining my Patreon on a monthly basis. Patrons receive additional audio and video content as well as archived episodes, a private Discord server, and a monthly book club! Sign up at Patreon.com/headonfirepod. Or if a one-time donation is more your speed, you can buy me a coffee at https://ko-fi.com/headonfirepod.

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Would you make a good cult leader? If not you, then you probably know someone who would. We're fascinated by cults. It seems like every day a new docuseries is dropped on some streaming service or podcast platform about yet another cult out there in the world taking people's time, energy, or money. 

Jennings Brown is an investigative journalist with a penchant for investigating cults. He's reported on Teal Swan, the Fellowship of Friends, as well as a number of conspiracy theories, algorithm blackholes, scam artists, and assorted ways people prey on others. We have a discussion about what it takes to not only investigate cults and cult leaders but what it takes to simply be a journalist in the sociopolitical climate of 2022. 

If you like this show and want to support it, there are a number of ways to help. Share it with your friends on social media. You can also like, rate the show 5-stars on Apple Podcasts or Spotify, and leave a review. Reviews help recommend the show to other listeners like you.

Help keep the show free and producing regularly by joining my Patreon on a monthly basis. Patrons receive additional audio and video content as well as archived episodes, a private Discord server, and a monthly book club! Sign up at Patreon.com/headonfirepod. Or if a one-time donation is more your speed, you can buy me a coffee at https://ko-fi.com/headonfirepod.

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Pre-K pause. If you’ve been online in any capacity in the last year, that phrase probably conjures up the face of Tell Williams. He was a pre-K teacher for 9 years before resigning to pursue a Master’s in social work. Along the way he accidentally found viral fame when a video he posted about the realities of being a teacher hit the algorithm jackpot. He’s gone on to try his hand at stand-up comedy, being the face of a nail polish brand, and even act in the new show The Book of Queer that just premiered on Discovery+. Despite sitting atop the influencer game, we had a lengthy conversation about his offline life. What it means to be a visibly queer, visibly BIPOC teacher right now when every news cycle seems to both praise teachers and vilify them. What it means for content to be “age appropriate”, and just how much our kids actually understand at a young age.

I do want to warn you, we do touch on the subject of school shootings, though we do not go into specific details about any one shooting, however if that topic is sensitive for you at this time please listen with care. 

If you like this show and want to support it, there are a number of ways to help. Share it with your friends on social media. You can also like, rate the show 5-stars on Apple Podcasts or Spotify, and leave a review. Reviews help recommend the show to other listeners like you.

Help keep the show free and producing regularly by joining my Patreon on a monthly basis. Patrons receive additional audio and video content as well as archived episodes, a private Discord server, and a monthly book club! Sign up at Patreon.com/headonfirepod. Or if a one-time donation is more your speed, you can buy me a coffee at https://ko-fi.com/headonfirepod.

 

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Lots of people have lots to say about the Bible. Loads of conspiracy theories exist about it. Whether it’s conspiracy theories about its creation, or lost books that didn’t make the cut, or obscure interpretations seen by a select few as prophecy about our modern world, not a day goes by that someone, somewhere isn’t holding the Bible up to the light and seeing if we missed anything. 

 

Beyond that, so-called biblical literalism has been the basis of support for a lot of pretty heinous parts of our country’s past and present. From regulating the sale of alcohol to vilifying interracial marriage and queer identity to demonizing immigrants to supporting slavery, supposed biblical scholars have found a way to twist the Bible in such a way that it is a timeless scapegoat for current hatred. 

 

All of this turns a lot of people off from not just modern Christianity, but of religion in general. Few scholars wish to use their time, energy, and knowledge to combat the misinformation and vitriol online. But, thankfully, my guest today does just that. 

 

Dan McClellan is a scripture translation supervisor for the LDS church, with a PhD in theology and religion. He ran for the State Senate as a Democrat in Utah. He is a fierce ally of the queer community, a debunker of conspiracy theories, and a Marvel fan. We had a lot to talk about. 

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Witchcraft and magical practice has been an indelible part of the human experience throughout recorded history. Wherever there are people, there are people practicing magic. It shows up in all sorts of places: tv shows, fantasy novels, and the strange shop on the corner that smells of incense and has shelves lined with crystals. But what if I told you there is an actual, formal discipline of study when it comes to the history and practice of magic?

 

Owen Davies is a professor of history at the University of Hertfordshire whose career has been spent largely researching witchcraft, magic, and ghosts. He is the president of The Folklore Society in the UK, and the author of - as of this recording - 16 publications on the subject. He is considered one of the world's leading academic experts on the study of witchcraft, and he took some time to chat with me about witch trials, the fact and fiction of real witches, and, of course, Taylor Swift.

 

If you like this show and want to support it, there are a number of ways to help. Share it with your friends on social media. You can also like, rate the show 5-stars on Apple Podcasts or Spotify, and leave a review. Reviews help recommend the show to other listeners like you.

 

Help keep the show free and producing regularly by joining my Patreon on a monthly basis. Patrons receive additional audio and video content as well as archived episodes, a private Discord server, and a monthly book club! Sign up at Patreon.com/headonfirepod. Or if a one-time donation is more your speed, you can buy me a coffee at https://ko-fi.com/headonfirepod.

 

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Early mornings and late sunsets are a hallmark of the summer season. The extra warmth and daylight is a blessing for many of us that live in areas where it is cold, dark, and wet or frozen for much of the year. It is a time of year that calls many of us to go out in search of high mountaintops or deep canyons, verdant forests, and untouched landscapes. To get back to nature. But getting back to nature isn't without its pitfalls, which is where my guest today comes in. 
 
Diana Helmuth is the author of How to Suffer Outside, a humorous guide for the beginning backpacker or hiker who would love to experience the great outdoors while keeping the agony to a minimum. 
 
Diana also graciously sent along a list of organizations specifically operated and aimed at people who are queer, women, or people of color who want to seek out more resources or engage with the outdoors near you! 

If you like this show and want to support it, there are a number of ways to help. Share it with your friends on social media. You can also like, rate the show 5-stars on Apple Podcasts or Spotify, and leave a review. Reviews help recommend the show to other listeners like you.

 

Help keep the show free and producing regularly by joining my Patreon on a monthly basis. Patrons receive additional audio and video content as well as archived episodes, a private Discord server, and a monthly book club! Sign up at Patreon.com/headonfirepod. Or if a one-time donation is more your speed, you can buy me a coffee at https://ko-fi.com/headonfirepod.

 

 

Do you want to see a dead body? How about two? Would you like to see 1-2 dead bodies every day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year for the next 20, 30, 40 years? If you said yes, you might have what it takes to do the job of my guest on today's episode of Head On Fire. 

The preparation and care for our dead is not just a sacred rite, or a taboo subject, but for folks like Temple Ruff it's a job. One that isn't without its perks, I mean how much more job security can you get than death, right? Temple is a mortician and funeral director, and today she helps us scratch the surface on what it means to care for our bodies after we're done using them. 

Temple Ruff is also the founder and COO of Idun Ruth, a nonprofit organization that seeks to help all those in her local North Carolina community who need access to personal sanitation items - such as diapers or menstrual products - get them. Idun Ruth offers inclusivity and anonymity to all. Please consider supporting this important local organization. 

If you like this show and want to support it, there are a number of ways to help. Share it with your friends on social media. You can also like, rate the show 5-stars on Apple Podcasts or Spotify, and leave a review. Reviews help recommend the show to other listeners like you.

 

Help keep the show free and producing regularly by joining my Patreon on a monthly basis. Patrons receive additional audio and video content as well as archived episodes, a private Discord server, and a monthly book club! Sign up at Patreon.com/headonfirepod. Or if a one-time donation is more your speed, you can buy me a coffee at https://ko-fi.com/headonfirepod.

 

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How much does the marketing industry know about you? You, specifically. Sure, you've heard all the horror stories - or maybe you've lived it - in which you're thinking about Pop Tarts and suddenly you see an ad on social media for Pop Tarts. That's freaky, right? But marketing existed long before the advent of modern technology and still seemed to somehow catch the pulse of what we all wanted to consume. Or did it? Maybe the truth about marketing isn't that it is reacting to what you're seeing or hearing, rather it is shaping it, shaping you. Helping you tell stories of how your life might look if you purchased this candy, went to see that movie, or, in the case of the United States, took this prescription medication. 

Or perhaps you've seen an ad that seemed so incredibly ill-advised you wonder...how many people had to look at this ad and ignore all the blatantly problematic visuals or ad copy before it was sent out in the world? How many people thought this was a good idea? 

Hayley Grant is a VP of Strategy for VaynerMedia, one of the country's largest and most influential marketing firms. She sat down for a deep dive conversation about the realities of the marketing industry. There were no topics off the table. We discussed how marketers decide who a product or service is for, how they develop a marketing strategy for them, and how they make us want things we didn't ever think we'd want. We discussed the taboos of pharmaceutical marketing and whether the US should change tactics to match the rest of the world. And, we discussed which piece of media the marketing industry is most like. (Hint: it's not Mad Men.)

If you like this show and want to support it, there are a number of ways to help. Share it with your friends on social media. You can also like, rate the show
5-stars on Apple Podcasts or Spotify, and leave a review. Reviews help recommend the show to other listeners like you.

 

Help keep the show free and producing regularly by joining my Patreon on a monthly basis. Patrons receive additional audio and video content as well as archived episodes, a private Discord server, and a monthly book club! Sign up at Patreon.com/headonfirepod. Or if a one-time donation is more your speed, you can buy me a coffee at https://ko-fi.com/headonfirepod.

 

Connect with me on social media @headonfirepod everywhere.

 

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"Grief is a feeling made of feelings," says Mahlakai Rose, a death doula and co-founder of The House of Grief. We are all thinking about death lately. How we want to die, where and with whom we want to spend our final moments, and what we'd like to happen afterwards. But given how much our lives have changed in the last few years, we're also becoming clued in to the fact that death and grief happen more often than we'd like to think. 

We die little deaths throughout our lives. Unexpected loss of a job. Moving across the country. The end of a cherished friendship. Mal has a lot to teach us about dealing with grief and demystifying the role of a death doula in both our deaths and lives. 

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Support my work on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/headonfirepod

 

Subscribe to the Head On Fire podcast

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