Friday, 18 September 2020

Arts & Life

Ted Kooser. Photo credit: UNL Publications and Photography.

Most of the school-age athletes I know or have known would have been embarrassed to show any vulnerability, and this fine poem by Al Ortolani, from his chapbook Hansel and Gretel Get the Word on the Street, published by Rattle, really catches what I felt like, trying to do my best at what I was never any good at, even on my best day.

Game Prayer

Maybe it’s the way boys
look at each other before the last game,
their eyes wet and glimmering with rain.

Maybe it’s that I catch them
in these shy moments of waiting,
turning the world like a pigskin,

flipping it nonchalantly, low spiral
drilling the air. Maybe it’s this
moment before the splash of lights

before the game prayer
before you run from the door.
If so, forgive me

for seeing you so vulnerable,
in that quiet moment
before the helmets.


American Life in Poetry does not accept unsolicited manuscripts. It is made possible by The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2019 by Al Ortolani, "Game Prayer," from Hansel and Gretel Get the Word on the Street, (Rattle, 2019). Poem reprinted by permission of Al Ortolani and the publisher. Introduction copyright @2020 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.

NORTH COAST, Calif. – The show must go on!

The Mendocino College art community has taken the challenge presented by the current shelter in place and will continue its 30-year tradition of Spring Student Art Shows by featuring it virtually.

The show can be viewed by visiting here.

This team effort of the college’s graphic designer, publicity team, art gallery, and all academic departments, heralds in a new concept and a new era for the Mendocino College Art Gallery.

In the past, the show was mounted and shown in the Mendocino College Art Gallery for the last six weeks of each academic year.

Now the show can live on in its virtual home for as long as people want to visit and view it.

Another truly revolutionary aspect is now, for the first time, all creative pursuits can be showcased for everyone to view at the same time.

The usual show staples include 2d arts (painting, drawing, photography, and digital printed artworks) and 3D arts (sculpture, ceramics and pottery, and digital 3D printing).

This year, with this new virtual show concept, additional arts will be included, such as culinary arts, theater, dance, music and creative writings.

The Spring Student Art Show is Mendocino College Art Gallery’s largest and most popular show.

The students, their families, the college and community always look forward to seeing the creativity that thrives in Mendocino College students. Now it will be even easier and more fully representative of all student’s creative pursuits than ever before.

The show will be continually expanding over the next two weeks.

Many items in the virtual show are for sale and can be purchased by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . All proceeds go directly to student artists.

For more information please contact the Mendocino College Art Gallery at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Ted Kooser. Photo credit: UNL Publications and Photography.

I had to drop out of a philosophy class in college because I'd begun to think about what I was thinking about and I was getting dizzy and sick.

Here's a poem by Danusha Laméris about getting relief from thinking. It's from “Poetry of Presence: An Anthology of Mindfulness Poems,” published by Grayson Books of West Hartford, Connecticut.

The poet lives in Santa Cruz, California, and she has a book forthcoming in April 2020 from the University of Pittsburgh Press entitled “Bonfire Opera.”

Thinking

Don't you wish they would stop, all the thoughts
swirling around in your head, bees in a hive, dancers
tapping their way across the stage? I should rake the leaves
in the carport, buy Christmas lights. Was there really life on Mars?
What will I cook for dinner? I walk up the driveway,
put out the garbage bins. I should stop using plastic bags,
visit my friend whose husband just left her for the Swedish nanny.
I wish I hadn't said Patrick's painting looked "ominous."
Maybe that's why he hasn't called. Does the car need oil again?
There's a hole in the ozone the size of Texas and everything
seems to be speeding up. Come, let's stand by the window
and look out at the light on the field. Let's watch how the clouds
cover the sun and almost nothing stirs in the grass.

American Life in Poetry does not accept unsolicited manuscripts. It is made possible by The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2013 by Danusha Laméris, "Thinking," from The Moons of August, (Autumn House Press, 2013). Poem reprinted by permission of Danusha Laméris and the publisher. Introduction copyright @2020 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.

‘EXTRACTION’ ON NETFLIX

With movie theaters remaining closed for the time being, the desire to watch a new film, instead of binge-watching a TV series, leaves one with few options outside the streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

For its part, Netflix is ready to fill the vacuum with original movies and with established commodities. Case in point is the recent Mark Wahlberg film “Spenser Confidential” that allowed the Boston native to star in an action film set in his hometown.

Chris Hemsworth, the Australian actor of flowing locks in the role of Thor, is no less a fierce warrior in Netflix’s “Extraction,” wherein his character of Tyler Rake is a fearless black market mercenary with a penchant for violence that suits his character.

To make no mistake that “Extraction” is a feature-length film rather than a television movie-of-the-week, the MPAA has properly attached the R rating for “strong bloody violence throughout, language and brief drug use.” Our viewing of it is a virtual experience of mayhem.

Directing this effort for cinematic bedlam is former stuntman and stunt coordinator Sam Hargrave, who also served as a second unit director on “Avengers: Endgame” and “Avengers: Infinity War.”

With a background tuned to the need to deliver action thrills, often of the death-defying nature, Hargrave goes about the business of directing a serviceable thriller that spares no kinetic energy to deliver the goods.

We may be getting ahead of the story, but the Hargrave style is realized in an 11-minute-long sequence designed to look like one seamless shot that would include several car chases, pile-ups, hand-to-hand combat, running through tenements, and leaping and falling off roofs.

The film opens with Tyler, caked with blood, pinned down on a bridge under heavy fire and apparently hemmed in by a dwindling opportunity for an exit. This scene is merely a prologue to the ultimate climactic action sequence.

Backing up from the opening by a couple of days, Tyler is camping in the Australian wilderness with a couple of buddies. Moments later he takes a flying leap off a cliff into a lake below, remaining submerged in the water where he seems to be pondering his fate.

The answer comes soon enough when arms dealer Nik Khan (Golshifteh Farahani) arrives at his ramshackle cabin in the middle of nowhere. She has a past with Tyler but we’re not quite sure what it is. Could it be more than a platonic history with a fellow mercenary?

Given his living quarters, Tyler looks like a guy who needs a payday. His reckless nature has no problem taking an extremely risky job offer from Nik to venture into hostile territory to rescue the kidnapped son of an Indian drug lord imprisoned in Mumbai.

The adolescent Ovi (Rudkraksh Jaiswal) is snatched by thugs of his father’s Bangladeshi rival, Amir Asif (Priyanshu Painyuli), a callous villain that has no qualms about having a kid tossed off a roof or commanding a henchman to cut off two of his own fingers.

Let’s be clear about the fact that Ovi’s father (Pankaj Tripathi) is no prince either. He tasks his own henchman Saju (Randeep Hooda) to retrieve the boy, noting that failure would result in the death of Saju’s family.

While Tyler succeeds in rescuing Ovi in the early going with his one-man raid on a hideaway where he kills the numerous captors by a variety of brutal means, including a gruesome use of a garden rake.

The rescue was the so-called easy part. Getting out of Dhaka proves far more challenging since the well-connected Amir, untouchable to his foes, has the local police and military in his back pocket.

A corrupt high-level military officer exercises his authority to close down the city for a manhunt similar to how a NYPD officer shutdown all routes in and out of Manhattan in “21 Bridges.”

A major break in the action occurs when Ovi and Tyler take refuge at the home of Gaspar (David Harbour), a fellow mercenary and old friend who may not be very helpful when he counsels Tyler to give up the impossible mission.

The only escape route for Ovi and Tyler is a treacherous crossing on a long bridge, and the climactic action, with a surfeit of gunfire and explosions, ends up where we first got a glimpse in the prologue.

Despite its breathtaking, action-packed set-pieces that are spectacularly staged, “Extraction” is the type of generic thriller that would have once featured a younger Bruce Willis or Sylvester Stallone, most likely to the same effect as what Chris Hemsworth brings to the screen.

This is not to say that action junkies, who have to wait another year for the fourth chapter of “John Wick,” won’t enjoy “Extraction” in the absence of alternatives. It’s just that one’s expectation shouldn’t get too worked up too high.

Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.

“Mail Order Bride,” mixed media painting by Alana Clearlake.

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – The Middletown Art Center announces a three-part digital marketing workshop “Tools for Visibility in the Age of Social Distancing” geared to professional artists.

It’s happening this Saturday, May 2, from 1:30 to 3 p.m. and the next two Saturdays, May 9 and 16.

This course is designed to help artists explore a range of new digital tools to inventory their work and collections and to establish an online presence.

“It will help you to market and manage your art career more easily and professionally, and provide an online showcase for potential buyers, collectors and galleries to see your work more easily,” explained Workshop Leader and Curator Nicola Chipps. “We will also be talking about the COVID-19 Crisis and resources within the arts community that can provide a forum for discussion, as well as relief programs”.

This is the first of a professional development series the MAC plans to offer artists.

The workshop consists of three sessions: “Explore: Intro to Artwork Archive,” “Build: Your Online Catalogue” and “Connect: Tell Your Story.”

The format will be with a live instructor on the Zoom platform, which allows for interactive questions and answers. A laptop or computer is required. All sessions will be recorded so you can review the material if you miss one.

The fee is $60 for MAC members and $75 for non-members.

Please preregister online at MiddletownArtCenter.org/classes. Partial work-trade options are available. Technical support will be offered 30 minutes before class by appointment. Enquire via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The MAC has been offering children’s, and Woodland Community College art classes online since the shelter in place began.

Find out more about how MAC is adapting to the current evolving situation and ways to support the MAC’s efforts to weave the arts and culture into the fabric of life in Lake County at www.middletownartcenter.org .





‘JACKIE ROBINSON’ ON PBS

April 15th is a milestone every year as the deadline for filing of tax returns.

But April 15, 1947, is one of the most historically unforgettable dates of the post-World War II era, right up there with the moon landing and the day President Kennedy was assassinated.

Baseball fans immediately recognize that this date in 1947 marks the breaking of the color barrier in Major League Baseball when Jackie Robinson made his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers on Opening Day.

Now that those who enjoy the nation’s pastime have been relegated to reruns of vintage games as this year’s opening day has come and gone with stadiums around the country sitting idle, PBS has resurrected its two-part “Jackie Robinson” documentary.

For a limited time, PBS has made the Ken Burns documentary available for streaming to commemorate the celebration of the first African-American to play at the major league level.

Part 1 of “Jackie Robinson” is devoted to his early life and baseball career, focused on the significance of the first player in the Negro Leagues to get drafted into the majors by the visionary Branch Rickey, general manager of the Dodgers.

Though born to a family of sharecroppers in Cairo, Georgia, Jack Roosevelt Robinson (his middle name is in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt) was raised in Pasadena, California where his athletic ability served him well in school.

Robinson proved to be an all-around athlete and film clips of his football career demonstrate his talent for running the ball. At UCLA, he was the first athlete to win varsity letters in four sports: football, baseball, basketball and track.

That he was good at football caught the attention of the media and writer George Will narrated the Los Angeles Times article that noted Robinson “carried the football as though he was carrying a watermelon running from its owner who had a shotgun.”

Before he could pursue a professional career in sports, Robinson was drafted into a segregated unit of the Army during World War II. Way ahead of Rosa Parks, Robinson once refused the order of a civilian driver to move to the back of a military bus.

The military police that responded were disrespectful and Robinson refused to back down, which then lead to his arrest on the charge of insubordination. Taking an aggressive posture with an officer reflected his strong sense of social justice.

Fortunately, Robinson was found not guilty during a court-martial and then penned a sharply-worded to the Adjutant General expressing his disgust with how the Army treated him and asking to be retired from the military. An honorable discharge was granted.

Robinson’s baseball career got launched when he signed with the Kansas City Monarchs, one of the teams in the Negro Leagues, where he drew the attention of Branch Rickey who was scouting for talent to add to the Dodgers’ roster.

Interviewed for the documentary, the legendary Buck O’Neil, who played most of his career with the Kansas City Monarchs, revealed that Robinson hated the Negro Leagues because they were poorly financed and operated in a hectic, disorganized fashion.

The key to Rickey drafting Robinson into the Dodger farm team in Montreal was to convince the proud ballplayer that he would have to hold his temper in check and not respond to the vicious taunts, racial epithets and worse while not retaliating.

Racial discrimination against Robinson was so pervasive that there were teams in Southern cities in the minor leagues that refused to play if Robinson was on the field. One city canceled a game claiming the lights didn’t work, and this was for a day game.

Robinson’s widow, Rachel, playing a prominent role in the documentary, observes that her husband felt the pressure to succeed on the field to achieve social progress because “he felt the weight of black people on his shoulders.”

Animosity to a black player was no less virulent when Robinson made his entry on to the majestic grounds of Ebbets Field and even some Dodger teammates like Dixie Walker asked to be traded rather than play with a man of color.

The second part of “Jackie Robinson,” though it includes film clip highlights of his playing days in Brooklyn, incorporates a look at Robinson’s life after baseball when he wrote a newspaper column and assumed a more assertive stance as a civil rights activist.

Robinson entered the business world as the first black person to serve as vice president of a major American corporation, the Chock full o’ Nuts company that originated from a chain of New York coffee shops.

Not affiliated with any political party, Robinson was nonetheless involved and surprised many by actively supporting Richard Nixon during the 1960 presidential campaign after being unimpressed by his opponent.

Both history buffs and baseball lovers should enjoy “Jackie Robinson” for the great footage of great moments like stealing home plate in the 1955 World Series and public speaking for civil rights. Hurry to catch this on the PBS website before you have to search elsewhere.

Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.

Upcoming Calendar

19Sep
09.19.2020 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Lake County Farmers’ Finest Saturday market
20Sep
09.20.2020 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Democratic Party virtual fundraiser 
22Sep
09.22.2020 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers’ Finest Tuesday market
22Sep
09.22.2020 10:30 am - 1:00 pm
Lakeport Police medication collection
23Sep
09.23.2020 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm
Library hosts ‘Zoom with the Director’ 
24Sep
09.24.2020 10:30 am - 1:00 pm
Lakeport Police medication collection
24Sep
09.24.2020 11:30 am - 8:00 pm
Dine Out with Hospice
26Sep
09.26.2020 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Lake County Farmers’ Finest Saturday market
29Sep
09.29.2020 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers’ Finest Tuesday market
29Sep
09.29.2020 10:30 am - 1:00 pm
Lakeport Police medication collection

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