Saturday, 15 May 2021

Arts & Life

Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

I have heard so many poets say that they feel like outcasts, until they meet other outcasts and dreamers, people who seem to feel like them, and suddenly they feel affirmed in their difference, and, as it turns out, their place in community.

It is likely what Safiya Sinclair means in her elegant poem, “The Ragged and the Beautiful” published in the always engaging “immigrant and refugee” journal, The Bare Life Review, when she declares being “strange/ and unbelonging” as, being, at the same time, “perfectly” beautiful.

The Ragged and the Beautiful
By Safiya Sinclair

Doubt is a storming bull, crashing through
the blue-wide windows of myself. Here in the heart
of my heart where it never stops raining,

I am an outsider looking in. But in the garden
of my good days, no body is wrong. Here every
flower grows ragged and sideways and always

beautiful. We bloom with the outcasts,
our soon-to-be sunlit, we dreamers. We are strange
and unbelonging. Yes. We are just enough

of ourselves to catch the wind in our feathers,
and fly so perfectly away.


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 ©2018 by Safiya Sinclair, “The Ragged and The Beautiful” from The Bare Life Review: A Journal of Immigrant and Refugee Literature, (The Bare Life Review, 2018). Poem reprinted by permission of Safiya Sinclair and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2021 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Kwame Dawes, is George W. Holmes Professor of English and Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner at the University of Nebraska.

The Apart and Connected exhibit at the Middletown Art Center in Middletown, California. Photo by MAC staff.

MIDDLETOWN, Calif. – The Middletown Art Center presents “Ekphrasis: Apart and Connected,” a creative writing workshop hosted by Lake County Poet Laureate Georgina Marie on Saturday, April 10, from 1 to 4 p.m. in hybrid format on Zoom and at MAC.

Ekphrasis, meaning “Description” in Greek, is a vivid description of a scene or, more commonly, a work of art.

Artwork from MAC’s current “Apart and Connected” exhibit will serve as writing prompts. Participants will create ekphrastic writing using description, imagination, and narration to reflect the artwork or an interpretation of the artwork.

The Apart and Connected exhibit at MAC features a stunning variety of expressions of separation and connection by local and regional artists. It includes an exhibit of Nicholas Hay’s series of works on paper “Strategies for Sanity” and works by Cobb Mountain Art and Ecology Project Ceramicists.

The workshop will take place on Zoom, but as a hybrid offering, participants are welcome to come to the MAC gallery on Saturday to enjoy the exhibit and find a spot to write and connect to Zoom in MAC’s spacious facility. Social distancing and masking are always observed at MAC.

The exhibit is also available online in virtual interactive format at www.middletownartcenter.org/connected.

For those who prefer to attend on Zoom, a visit to the gallery to view this stunning exhibit in person prior to the workshop is encouraged. The MAC Gallery is open Thursday through Monday, 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

"The Apart and Connected exhibit is a moving, visceral collection of vibrant art with all sorts of mediums from paint to raw earth to epoxy and botanical inks. The artwork in this exhibit expresses the isolation, distance, pain, and perseverance of the human spirit in the time of a pandemic, demonstrating excellence that can come from a time of both intensity and quietude,” explained Georgina Marie. “It is beautiful to see virtually on-screen but physically affecting to see in person."

Facilitator Georgina Marie is the 2020-2022 Lake County Poet Laureate, the first Mexican-American and youngest local poet to serve in this role. She facilitated writing workshops for MAC’s “Resilience” and “Restore” projects and served as co-editor for both projects’ chapbooks of writings and prints. She has facilitated and participated in poetry readings and workshops in Northern California and online and is the Literary Coordinator and Poetry Out Loud Coordinator for the Lake County Arts Council. Visit her website at www.georginamariepoet.com to learn more about her work

Adults and children ages 12 and up are invited to write in the company of others in a safe and supportive environment. All are welcome regardless of experience or writing styles. The fee is sliding scale $20 to $40. Preregistration is required at www.middletownartcenter.org/classes. No one turned away for lack of funds.

To find out more about MAC events, programs, opportunities 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​.

Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

José Alcantara’s poem, which appeared in the Winter 2020 issue of Rattle, seems simple enough – a splendid and hopeful account of a familiar moment – a bird stunned by a collision with glass, held in the hand and then, recovered, it flies away.

Then we return to the title, “Divorce,” and we see it’s doing what poems like to do, take one moment to describe another, seemingly unrelated moment.

In the end it is a poem about resilience and care, something we all need.

Divorce
By José Alcantara

He has flown headfirst against the glass
and now lies stunned on the stone patio,
nothing moving but his quick beating heart.
So you go to him, pick up his delicate
body and hold him in the cupped palms
of your hands. You have always known
he was beautiful, but it's only now, in his stillness,
in his vulnerability, that you see the miracle
of his being, how so much life fits in so small
a space. And so you wait, keeping him warm
against the unseasonable cold, trusting that
when the time is right, when he has recovered
both his strength and his sense of up and down,
he will gather himself, flutter once or twice,
and then rise, a streak of dazzling
color against a slowly lifting sky.


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 ©2020 by José “Divorce” from Rattle, (No. 70, Winter 2020). Poem reprinted by permission of José Alcantara and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2021 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Kwame Dawes, is Chancellor’s Professor of English and Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner at the University of Nebraska.



‘NOBODY’ RATED R

The feeling of getting back into a movie theater to enjoy a film on the big screen, as it is meant to be, is exciting. As entertainment venues reopen, the best advice is to jump at the chance and take in “Nobody” for starters.

Never would it be a logical thought that Bob Odenkirk, well-known as Jimmy McGill in “Better Call Saul,” would superbly play an action role like that of Liam Neeson or Keanu Reeves in “Taken” and “John Wick,” their respective franchise films.

In most of these action films, even going back to Charles Bronson in “Death Wish,” the premise of the genre has bad guys messing with the wrong guy. That formula works, but what if the villains mess with a normal guy who is not perceived as a threat?

Odenkirk’s Hutch Mansell is a suburban family man living a mundane life with his wife Becca (Connie Nielsen) and a teenage son and young daughter. Everyday of the week is the same boring routine for this pencil pusher at a tool and die company.

Two robbers break into the Mansell home one night, and Hutch can’t bring himself to defend his family even when his son is in danger. After suffering indignities from co-workers and an obnoxious neighbor, Hutch morphs into vigilante mode.

What turns Hutch from a meek office drone into a fighter with a skill set that could have only been acquired by a trained pro is his hot rage and burning desire to retrieve his daughter’s kitty cat bracelet.

Once he was an auditor for a three-lettered federal agency, but he had to be doing something more than crunching numbers. Riding on a bus, Hutch goes full John Wick on a bunch of nasty Russian thugs who are taunting a young female passenger.

One of the victims of Hutch’s beat-down is the brother of unhinged Russian gangster Yulian (Alexey Serebryakov), a man so ruthless and lethal that he would ordinarily be a caricature, but here he’s truly scary and dangerous.

The revenge-minded Yulian, backed by an army of violent trigger-happy henchmen, track downs Hutch’s identity from a discarded Metro card, thereby setting the stage for fireworks.

The Russians didn’t figure on their target having a lot of tricks up his sleeve, to say nothing of his nerve to show up at their nightclub with an unmistakable message not to mess with him.

It’s great to see Christopher Lloyd, as Hutch’s father living quietly in a rest home watching westerns, take up arms with his son, and joined by Hutch’s adoptive brother Harry (RZA), when the trio lure Yulian and his thugs to a wild, brutal climactic showdown.

A barrage of fists, knifings and gunfire, “Nobody” works on the visceral thrills of witnessing truly awful human scum getting the living daylights knocked out of them by the vigilante. Now you know what to expect.



‘ROBIN ROBERTS PRESENTS: MAHALIA’ ON LIFETIME

Watching a biography of any famous person that is meant to be entertainment invariably raises questions about the veracity of dialogue and the events that define the life of the subject.

Lifetime Channel’s “Robin Roberts Presents: Mahalia” is no exception for New Orleans native Mahalia Jackson, widely and appropriately known as “The Queen of Gospel,” a black singer who hewed closely to her deeply-held religious beliefs.

In her own right, Danielle Brooks, Tony Award-winner for best performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in the musical “The Color Purple,” has the strong voice needed to portray Mahalia Jackson, who also had the fortitude to resist entreaties to sing the blues.

More than vocal cords tie Brooks to the gospel crooner. During the press tour, Brooks acknowledged that “Mahalia stood firm on her faith with God,” and that she felt connected to Mahalia for having to “lean on God when I felt like I couldn’t do things.”

Generous of spirit and kind of heart, Mahalia’s upbringing in a childhood of dire poverty taught her to care for the needs of others. She would also barnstorm at tent revivals in the South during the Jim Crow era, showing courage to overcome racial hostilities.

Auditioning for a Chicago stage production early in her career, Mahalia encounters a young boy on the street eager to be a part of it. Mahalia takes the boy home for a meal, much to the chagrin of then-husband Isaac (Jamall Johnson).

As told in this movie, the boy named John (Benjamin Charles Watson) never returns to the streets, effectively becoming Mahalia’s adopted son or so it would seem.

However, searching for information about the putative adopted son comes up empty, leading to the possible deduction that John’s presence is a story construct to add another dimension to Mahalia’s life.

Mahalia Jackson’s story needs more time than allotted for a TV movie. From her early struggles, to a friendship with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and civil rights activism, and to singing at Carnegie Hall, “Mahalia” should have been a mini-series to do justice to her life story.

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

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – A‌ ‌hint‌ ‌of‌ ‌summer‌ ‌is‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌air,‌ ‌and‌ ‌in‌ ‌Lake‌ ‌County‌ ‌that‌ ‌can‌ ‌only‌ ‌mean‌ ‌one‌ ‌thing:‌ ‌the‌ sixth‌ ‌annual‌ ‌Shakespeare‌ ‌at‌ ‌the‌ ‌Lake.

Last‌ ‌year’s‌ ‌production‌ ‌was‌ ‌the‌ ‌tragic‌ ‌‌”Romeo‌ ‌and‌ ‌Juliet,‌‌” ‌which‌ ‌seemed‌ ‌appropriate‌ ‌considering‌ ‌what‌ ‌a‌ ‌grim‌ ‌year‌ ‌2020‌ ‌was.‌ ‌

With‌ ‌hope‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ ‌horizon‌ ‌in‌ ‌2021,‌ ‌Lake‌ ‌County‌ ‌Theatre‌ ‌Co. ‌and‌ ‌Mendocino‌ ‌College‌ ‌are‌ ‌teaming‌ ‌up‌ ‌for‌ ‌a‌ ‌comedy,‌ ‌‌”All’s‌ ‌Well‌ ‌That‌ ‌Ends‌ ‌Well.‌”

Like‌ ‌most‌ ‌of‌ ‌Shakespeare’s‌ ‌comedies,‌ ‌this‌ ‌one‌ ‌tells‌ ‌the‌ ‌tale‌ ‌of‌ ‌unrequited‌ ‌love,‌ ‌mistaken‌ ‌identities,‌ ‌betrayal,‌ ‌and‌ ‌revenge.‌ ‌

After‌ ‌a‌ ‌faked‌ ‌death,‌ ‌a‌ ‌miraculous‌ ‌treatment‌ ‌for‌ ‌an‌ ‌incurable‌ ‌disease‌ ‌and‌ ‌a‌ ‌pregnancy,‌ ‌the‌ ‌play‌ ‌concludes‌ ‌with – you‌ ‌guessed‌ ‌it – a‌ ‌wedding!‌ In‌ ‌the‌ ‌end,‌ ‌all’s‌ ‌well‌ ‌that‌ ‌ends‌ ‌well … or‌ ‌is‌ ‌it?‌ ‌Tune‌ ‌in‌ ‌for‌ ‌the‌ ‌performance‌ ‌to‌ ‌find‌ ‌out!

Due‌ ‌to‌ ‌continued‌ ‌restrictions‌ ‌on‌ ‌large‌ ‌gatherings‌ ‌and‌ ‌uncertainties‌ ‌for‌ ‌what‌ ‌the‌ ‌coming‌ ‌months‌ ‌
may‌ ‌bring,‌ ‌this‌ ‌year’s‌ ‌play‌ ‌will‌ ‌again‌ ‌be‌ ‌an‌ ‌online‌ ‌production.‌

The company and college said they sincerely‌ ‌hope‌ ‌this‌ ‌will‌ ‌be‌ ‌the‌ ‌last‌ ‌virtual‌ ‌one,‌ ‌and‌ ‌that‌ ‌the‌ ‌2022‌ ‌Shakespeare‌ ‌at‌ ‌the‌ ‌Lake‌ ‌will‌ ‌return‌ ‌to‌ ‌its‌ ‌rightful‌ ‌outdoor‌ ‌venues‌ ‌in‌ ‌Clearlake‌ ‌and‌ ‌Lakeport‌ ‌along‌ ‌the‌ ‌beautiful‌ ‌shores‌ ‌of‌ ‌Clear‌ ‌Lake.‌

For‌ ‌this‌ ‌year,‌ ‌the‌ ‌entire‌ ‌production‌ ‌will‌ ‌be‌ ‌auditioned,‌ ‌rehearsed ‌and‌ ‌performed‌ ‌online.‌

‌Pre-recorded‌ ‌performances‌ ‌will‌ ‌be‌ ‌available‌ ‌for‌ ‌viewing‌ ‌on‌ ‌Friday,‌ ‌July‌ ‌24‌, ‌and‌ ‌Saturday,‌ ‌July‌ ‌25‌, ‌at‌ ‌7 p.m., and‌ Sunday,‌ ‌July‌ ‌26‌, ‌at‌ ‌2 p.m.

Actors‌ ‌will‌ ‌be‌ ‌required‌ ‌to‌ ‌register‌ ‌for‌ ‌THEATRE‌ ‌220‌ ‌at‌ ‌Mendocino‌ ‌College‌ ‌in‌ ‌order‌ ‌to‌ ‌participate.‌ No‌ ‌experience‌ ‌is‌ ‌necessary,‌ ‌and‌ ‌since‌ ‌the‌ ‌production‌ ‌is‌ ‌entirely‌ ‌online,‌ ‌performers‌ ‌from‌ ‌outside‌ ‌of‌ ‌Lake‌ ‌County‌ ‌are‌ ‌welcome‌ ‌(and‌ ‌encouraged)‌ ‌to‌ ‌try‌ ‌out.‌ ‌

Auditions‌ ‌will‌ ‌be‌ ‌held‌ ‌online‌ ‌on‌ ‌May‌ ‌13‌ ‌and‌ ‌15.‌

Audition‌ ‌materials‌ ‌will‌ ‌be‌ ‌posted‌ ‌at‌ ‌the‌ ‌LCTC‌ ‌website ‌in‌ ‌early‌ ‌May.‌

To‌ ‌sign‌ ‌up‌ ‌for‌ ‌an‌ ‌audition‌ ‌time‌ ‌slot,‌ ‌email‌ ‌director‌ ‌John‌ ‌Tomlinson‌ ‌at‌ This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..‌ ‌

Shakespeare‌ ‌at‌ ‌the‌ ‌Lake‌ ‌is‌ ‌a‌ ‌joint‌ ‌production‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌Lake‌ ‌County‌ ‌Theatre‌ ‌Co. ‌and‌ ‌Mendocino‌ ‌College,‌ ‌with‌ ‌generous‌ ‌support‌ ‌from‌ ‌the‌ ‌Lake‌ ‌County‌ ‌Friends‌ ‌of‌ ‌Mendocino‌ ‌College.‌

‌For‌ ‌more‌ ‌information,‌ ‌email‌ ‌‌This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.‌‌ or‌ ‌call‌ ‌707-278-9628.‌ ‌ ‌

‌Laura‌ ‌Barnes is a producer‌ ‌for the Lake‌ ‌County‌ ‌Theatre‌ ‌Co.



‘BAD TRIP’ TV MOVIE ON NETFLIX

Johnny Knoxville has been on hiatus for several years from the idiocy of the wild pranks of the “Jackass” franchise, but until the next installment arrives the vacuum can be filled by others making a hidden camera movie.

We are long past the days of Allen Funt’s “Candid Camera,” and for the uninitiated, clips of classic episodes of this landmark television series from the Fifties and Sixties may be glimpsed on YouTube.

To fill the void until Knoxville returns, Netflix steps into the breach with “Bad Trip,” a raunchy prank-filled adventure thankfully devoid of a political agenda or social commentary.

Be warned that two best buddies in dead-end jobs in Florida, namely Bud Malone (Lil Rel Howery) and Chris Carey (Eric Andre), are thrust into a road trip to New York City that is fraught with, well, an abundance of gross humor.

The goofball of the pair is Chris, first seen working at a car wash when the girl of his dreams, high school crush Maria (Michaela Conlin), arrives to have her car detailed.

Sharing his excitement at spotting the dream girl with a customer, Chris mishandles a vacuum so powerful that it sucks off his clothes, leaving him completely naked and afraid to the consternation of the customer.

A chance encounter later with Maria plants the seed for Chris and Bud to steal the pink Crown Vic belonging to Bud’s sister Trina (Tiffany Haddish), who breaks out of prison and loses her mind about her missing car.

What ensues is a wild journey to New York for Chris to find Maria at her art gallery, with an enraged Trina not far behind. That Bud and Chris take time to push some boundaries at a southern cowboy bar is just one of many pranks.

Inarguably, bad taste runs ramp in “Bad Trip” with its degrading pranks from fake vomit spewing on bar patrons, penises stuck in Chinese finger traps, and not least with Chris getting sexually molested by a gorilla at a zoo.

“Bad Trip” may be an uneven comedy but there are plenty of laughs for those willing to take the ride.

CABLE TV PREVIEW

May we ponder the question of whether certain actors are destined to play particular characters? Can you imagine someone other than Charlton Heston becoming the personification of Moses in “The Ten Commandments?”

Though not yet an iconic actor in her own right, Danielle Brooks, by way of a role in the 2015 Broadway revival of “The Color Purple,” came to the realization from castmates that she should play the part of gospel artist Mahalia Jackson.

The Lifetime Channel’s TV movie “Robin Roberts Presents: Mahalia” fulfills a destiny for Brooks, who let it be known during the winter press tour that Broadway co-star Jennifer Hudson would come to her dressing room to say she should play Mahalia Jackson.

When Jennifer Holliday stepped into a role in “The Color Purple,” she suggested the same thing to Brooks, who told the press that “maybe this is a sign. Maybe God is telling me maybe I should really think about this character.”

And so, Brooks will play the part in “Mahalia” of the New Orleans native who began singing at an early age and went on to become one of the most revered gospel figures in U.S. history, melding her music with the civil right movement.

Mahalia’s recording of the song “Move on Up a Little Higher” sold millions of copies, skyrocketing her to international fame and gave her the opportunity to perform at the prestigious Carnegie Hall and John F. Kennedy’s inaugural ball.

Acorn TV, one of several cable brands within the umbrella of AMC Networks, is a good source of entertainment from Great Britain and neighboring European countries. The four-part Irish crime thriller “Bloodlands” has made its debut but there is time to catch up with it.

In “Bloodlands,” James Nesbitt stars as Tom Brannick, a veteran Northern Ireland police detective going into his own dark past to try to solve an infamous cold case that holds enormous personal significance for him.

When an expensive car containing a suicide note – but no body – is pulled from the sea, Brannick immediately sees a connection with the cold case that may link to a long-buried series of mysterious disappearances.

Not to be outdone, AMC will bring the British drama series “The Beast Must Die,” starring Jared Harris and Cush Jumbo, to the United States this spring. The six-part thriller is based on the novel by Nicholas Blake (the pen name of Poet Laureate Cecil Day-Lewis).

Unlike the 1974 horror film of the same title, “The Beast Must Die” tells the revenge story of a grieving mother who infiltrates the life of the man she believes killed her son.

At the winter press tour, AMC executive Dan McDermott observed that this engaging revenge thriller “explores the human condition and how the depths of suffering sometimes give rise to unexpected consequences.” We’ll soon judge for ourselves how this plays out.

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

Upcoming Calendar

15May
05.15.2021 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Lake County Farmers’ Finest Saturday market
15May
05.15.2021 10:00 am - 2:00 pm
American Legion Post flag retirement ceremony
15May
16May
05.16.2021 9:00 am - 2:00 pm
Lake County Fair cleanup event
16May
05.16.2021 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Konocti Fire Lookout volunteer meeting
17May
05.17.2021
Tax Day
18May
05.18.2021 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Lake County Farmers’ Finest Tuesday market
18May
05.18.2021 11:00 am - 3:30 pm
Lakeport Community Blood Drive
22May
05.22.2021 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Lake County Farmers’ Finest Saturday market
25May
05.25.2021 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Lake County Farmers’ Finest Tuesday market

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