Monday, 10 May 2021

Arts & Life

Ted Kooser. Photo credit: UNL Publications and Photography.

Edward Muir’s poem, “The Horses,” published many years ago, envisioned a future in which the work horse would return, and with them we’d have a new beginning.

Today, some of our fellow creatures aren’t to come back.

Here’s a poem by Robert Hedin, of Minnesota, that I found in the most recent Alaska Quarterly Review.

Hedin’s most recent book is “At the Great Door of Morning,” from Copper Canyon Press.

Monarchs, Viceroys, Swallowtails

For years they came tacking in, full sail,
Riding the light down through the trees,
Over the rooftops, and not just monarchs,
But viceroys, swallowtails, so many
They became unremarkable, showing up
As they did whether we noticed them or not,
Swooping and fanning out at the bright
Margins of the day. So how did we know
Until it was too late, until they quit coming,
That the flowers in the flower beds
Would close their shutters, and the birds
Grow so dull they’d lose the power to sing,
And how later, after the river died,
Others would follow, admirals, buckeyes,
All going off like some lavish parade
Into the great overcrowded silence.
And no one bothered to tell the trees
They wouldn’t be coming back any more,
The huge shade trees where they used
To gather, every last branch and leaf sagging
Under the bright freight of their wings.


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 Robert Hedin, “Monarchs, Viceroys, Swallowtails,” from the Alaska Quarterly Review (Vol. 36, No. 3 & 4). Poem reprinted by permission of Robert Hedin 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.

Ted Kooser. Photo credit: UNL Publications and Photography.

There will be many, many poems written about these days of great fear the world is enduring, just as there were after 9/11, and I like to think this one by Richard Levine, who lives in Brooklyn, will have long legs, one generation leading the next as they walk together into an uncertain future. His most recent book is Richard Levine: Selected Poems, (Future Cycle Press, 2019).

Sheltered in Place

You watch your boy struggle with giving
up the turtle, returning it to the pond
where he’d found it on a walk—
first time you’d all been out in days.

How thoughtful he thought he’d been,
making it a home in the home
where the family sheltered in place.
How he cared for his armored friend.

Having picked flowers, knowing they’d die,
you understand the urge to pluck
the exotic, the beautiful—any diversion
from fear, which is in itself a disease.

That morning, you helped your boy
give up the idea of living forever.


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 Richard Levine, “Sheltered in Place.” Poem reprinted by permission of Richard Levine. 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.

Ted Kooser. Photo credit: UNL Publications and Photography.

It’s not at all unusual for a poet who’s been impressed by someone else’s poem to think, “I wish I’d written THAT!”

I’ve never read a poem by the late Lisel Mueller—and I’ve read nearly all of them—when I didn’t feel just that way.

Mueller died at age 96 this past February. Here’s the poem that stands as an epigraph to her Pulitzer Prize winning book, “Alive Together: New and Selected Poems,” published by Louisiana State University Press.

In Passing

How swiftly the strained honey
of afternoon light
flows into darkness

and the closed bud shrugs off
its special mystery
in order to break into blossom

as if what exists, exists
so that it can be lost
and become precious


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 ©1996 by Lisel Mueller, "In Passing," from Alive Together: New and Selected Poems, (Louisiana State University Press, 1996). Poem reprinted by permission of Louisiana State University Press. 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.



‘ENOLA HOLMES’ ON NETFLIX

While the summer is now over and gone and Hollywood held back almost all of its major film releases during the prime season, entertaining family fun at the movies dwindled down to streaming service offerings.

Turning to Netflix, the choices weren’t always that welcoming for families. Consider the controversy that erupted over eleven-year-old girls in a provocative dance crew twerking their moves in “Cuties.”

But now there is something for people of practically every age to enjoy on Netflix, and that would be “Enola Holmes,” starring the delightful Millie Bobby Brown as the titular character, the much younger sister of Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes.

Set in England’s Victorian era of 1884, “Enola Holmes” delights as much with its gorgeous scenery of the countryside that contrasts with the urban jungle of bustling London as it does with appealing characters, of which Enola is the most engaging and charming.

Living far from England’s capital city, Enola (who’s name she reminds us often spells “alone” backwards) is a free-spirited independent living with her mother Eudoria (Helena Bonham Carter), where she’s homeschooled on everything from great literature to self-defense.

She’s never really known her older brothers who live and work in London. Sherlock (Henry Cavill), the famous detective, and the even older Mycroft (Sam Claflin), a government functionary, only appear on the scene after Eudoria goes missing.

On the morning of her sixteenth birthday, Enola wakes to find that her mother has disappeared, leaving behind an odd assortment of gifts and no immediately apparent reason as to where she’s gone or why, and yet a few cryptic clues only a sleuth could figure are left behind.

Enola’s unconventional upbringing is now uprooted when her siblings decide she’ll be under the guardian care of the stiff, uncaring Mycroft, who decides what’s best is placement of his sister in a girls’ finishing school run by the austere Miss Harrison (Fiona Shaw).

Wanting to prove that she has innate detective skills and to express a thoroughly modern sentiment of feminism, Enola runs off to catch a train to London in search of her wayward mother.

Often breaking the fourth wall, Enola speaks directly to the audience in frequently comical self-aware declarations of her pursuits. After crashing her bicycle and landing in the dirt, she dryly explains that “cycling is not one of my core strengths.”

What is certainly one of her strengths is a fearless willingness to confront adventure and danger with enormous self-confidence, such as rescuing fellow teenage train passenger Viscount Tewksbury (Louis Partridge) escaping an assassin.

A bond is formed between the young lord and the runaway budding sleuth, but romance is not what is on the mind of Enola. In fact, she seems initially to regard her new companion as more of a hindrance until realizing they share common interests.

Disguising herself on occasion in boyish clothes, Enola has no problem expressing a defiance of the existing social order of the Victorian period, and this will serve her well to navigate the treacherous pitfalls of the big city.

While focused on her primary mission to locate her mother, Enola gets caught up in the political turmoil that surrounds an upcoming critical vote in the House of Lords that would consider the granting of suffrage to women.

The mystery of why the life of the young aristocrat is in danger could be related to actions pending in Parliament. At this point, any political issues are just another subplot that may prove important to the story, or it’s just another diversion.

Due to her uncanny ability to break codes and solve puzzles, Enola displays ingenuity by even going undercover as a widow and then later uncovering a secret underground group that might lead to the whereabouts of Eudoria.

Near the end, there is an element of violence that plays out at Tewksbury’s mansion when the young viscount is placed in mortal danger, which allows Enola to be as daring as she is resilient and adaptable to fierce challenges.

Courage is not the only virtue for the plucky Enola. Her wits and clever skills are particularly effective in outsmarting adults and the various bad guys. For that matter, her brain power poses a real threat to the more experienced Sherlock.

Since “Enola Holmes” is based on the Nancy Springer young adult novel “The Case of the Missing Marquess,” the first installment in a series of mysteries, sequels could be on the horizon.

Keep in mind that Arthur Conan Doyle’s original stories of literature’s most famous detective did not include a spirited younger sister, perhaps because it would not fit with the expected propriety of the times.

As long as Millie Bobby Brown remains in the picture to carry on the Holmes tradition, Netflix would do well to continue adapting the Springer books. Sherlock’s catchphrase “the game is afoot” should be the guide.

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



The opportunity to launch new series on network television was going to be a dicey proposition during a pandemic that has curtailed original television productions.

The FOX network has the good fortune of being able to fill the void by having had midseason shows in the can that never aired or picking up a series that ran on a platform that lacked wider distribution.

The latter is the case for “L.A.’s Finest,” a new series on FOX that had its season last year on Spectrum Originals’ subscriber service, which does not have the same reach as a network, sort of like community theatre not being on the same level as Broadway.

If you are familiar with the Jerry Bruckheimer “Bad Boys” films, you will quickly grasp the gender-flip of this spin-off in the “L.A.’s Finest” series, with one primary character, Syd Burnett (Gabrielle Union), relocated from Miami to the Los Angeles Police Department.

Robbery-Homicide LAPD detective Nancy McKenna (Jessica Alba) gets paired up with Syd, and the two of them make a formidable team that is hell-bent on taking down garden-variety criminals as well as drug cartels.

Nancy, usually called McKenna by her peers, and Syd have an unusual chemistry, where they work well together in policing but have conflicts over secrets they harbor, some of which would endanger their careers and home life.

The two women prove to be tough in takedowns of thugs, but they also lighten the mood at times, such as responding to a convenience store holdup while bantering amusingly about not missing family book club.

At home, working mother Nancy grapples with rebellious stepdaughter Isabel (Sophie Reynolds), while her husband Patrick (Ryan McPartlin), an assistant district attorney, is on a path to career advancement.

However, Nancy has a complicated past with some shady characters, including drug dealer Dante Sherman (Barry Sloane) who seeks to rekindle their relationship. Her complex history may well pose a threat to her husband’s political ambition.

As counterparts to their female colleagues, officers Ben Walker (Zach Gilford) and Ben Barnes (Duane Martin) sometimes work alongside them, often with the expected trash-talking as competitors to nab credit for arrests.

Another angle to Syd’s web of troubled relationships is the fact that her absentee father, Joseph Vaughn (Ernie Hudson), who had a dubious career in law enforcement, tries to engage in her life to warn against her worst impulses.

What worries Syd’s father, as well as her partner Nancy, is that she recklessly pursues the ghost of an elusive drug lord named Gabriel Knox, a criminal so vicious he strikes fear with his own cohorts.

“L.A.’s Finest” delivers plenty of nicely staged action sequences, from shootouts and fiery explosions to the obligatory car chases. That action and the chemistry of the bad girl duo might be enough to carry the day.

Netflix is still streaming the “Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich” documentary. Meanwhile, FOX has debuted its own “Filthy Rich,” which thankfully has nothing to do with the despicable sexual deviant and his unfortunate victims.

Based on a New Zealand series of the same name, which likely means nothing to just about everybody, “Filthy Rich” is portrayed by the network as a “Southern Gothic family soap in which wealth, power and religion collide.”

This description is as accurate as a publicist would wish, and then even more so. The mega-rich Monreaux family has built a Louisiana-based televangelist empire known as the Sunshine Network run by the patriarch Eugene (Gerald McRaney).

In the first episode, Eugene is presumably dead after his plane crashes somewhere in the swampy Bayou country. This leaves his widow Margaret (Kim Cattrall) to take over, even though the son Eric (Corey Cott) fancies himself able to take the reins.

Meanwhile, the family, including daughter Rose (Aubrey Dollar) along with trusted counselor Franklin Lee (Steve Harris), is thrown for a huge loop when the reading of Eugene’s will reveals dark secrets.

With the apparent morals of an alley cat, Eugene fathered three illegitimate children, each one with a different mother. Feeling possible pangs of guilt, Eugene’s will provides an inheritance for those kids.
Enter a motley crew of love children into the family. The most appreciative one is Antonio (Benjamin Levy Aguilar), a single dad aspiring to be an MMA fighter. The other two are weed dealer Jason (Mark L. Young) and online sex worker Ginger (Melia Kreiling).

Of course, Margaret frets that the scandal of the out-of-wedlock children would forever taint the television ministry, and with good reason. Hence, she proffers a tidy cash settlement to avert the shame and humiliation.

As you would expect, neatly tidying up a disgraceful situation is not in the cards. The savvy Ginger proves all too eager to press an advantage that might boost her own enterprise.

Would watching the dramatic conflicts play out on “Filthy Rich” prove entertaining? It might depend on one’s thirst to enjoy the kind of soap opera that has seemingly run its course.

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




‘RATCHED’ ON NETFLIX

Television show creator, producer and writer Ryan Murphy seems to have a penchant for sex, violence and the macabre, if one were to judge his work by the series “American Horror Story.”

That particular FX series might as well have included a whole new season of “Ratched,” now streaming on Netflix, a series based on the character in the Ken Kesey novel “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and the movie of the same title.

The setting of “Ratched” is 1947 and Sarah Paulson’s Nurse Ratched may be intended to be an origin story for the character that Louise Fletcher delivered so brilliantly in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” in a cold and heartless manner.

Fans of Ryan Murphy’s work may care little about any comparisons to the 1975 movie. In “Ratched,” there’s no Jack Nicholson’s R.P. McMurphy to rally scared patients in a mental institution to rebel against Fletcher’s oppressive Nurse Ratched.

The eight-episode series may be binge-worthy to anyone curious enough to learn how Nurse Ratched evolves from a conflicted character who shows signs of being alternately empathetic to calculating to downright malicious.

The series opens with a disturbingly gruesome slaying of four Catholic priests in their parsonage by Edmund Tolleson (Finn Wittrock), who is then committed to Lucia State Hospital to determine whether he is sane enough to stand trial.

Six months later, Nurse Ratched arrives at the asylum located in a gorgeous coastal California area that looks close to Big Sur. She brashly talks her way into an interview with hospital director Dr. Hanover (Jon Jon Briones).

After scheming her way into a nurse position, Ratched discovers head nurse Betsy Bucket (Judy Davis) suspicious of her intentions and not thrilled to have her joining the staff, leading to obvious tension between the two.

Ratched takes a keen interest in Tolleson, who has become a political pawn for blustery Governor Wilburn (Vincent D’Onofrio) during his re-election campaign that possibly hinges on the death penalty for the killer.

Meanwhile, the Governor’s aide Gwendolyn Briggs (Cynthia Nixon) forms a pressing attention to Nurse Ratched. Then there’s Sharon Stone’s eccentric wealthy matron with a visceral hatred of Dr. Hanover, such that she plots against him.

Whether the characters are intriguing or not, “Ratched” has plenty of beautiful Art Deco style and gorgeous scenery, which does not alleviate the menace oozing with every torturous therapy of the inmates.

CABLE FALL PREVIEW – PART THREE

As far as the biannual television press tours were concerned, subscription cable giant HBO always operated independently even though it is part of WarnerMedia Entertainment.

The WarnerMedia umbrella includes TNT, TBS, and TruTV, but HBO remains the big elephant under the tent, and so it commands the most attention even though TNT’s “The Alienist: Angel of Darkness” also earned a spot on this summer’s virtual press tour.

Paul Rudnick’s comic satire “Coastal Elites” on HBO features Bette Midler, Issa Rae, Sarah Paulson, Kaitlyn Dever and Dan Levy as characters from New York to Los Angeles coping with politics and the pandemic.

“Coastal Elites” is produced entirely under quarantine guidelines, presenting contemporary stories of breaking down and breaking through that are intended to be funny, searing, and poignant, as far as we are told.

HBO’s “Lovecraft Country” got an early jump on the fall season when it was released last month. This ten-episode series follows Atticus Freeman (Jonathan Majors) as he journeys with his childhood friend Letitia (Jurnee Smollett) across 1950s Jim Crow America.

Joining these two is Atticus’ Uncle George (Courtney B. Vance) on the road trip from Chicago in search of Atticus’ missing father Montrose (Michael Kenneth Williams).

Their search-and-rescue turns into a struggle to survive and overcome both the racist terrors of segregated America and monstrous creatures that could be ripped from an H.P. Lovecraft paperback.

The six-part limited series “The Undoing” arrives on HBO in late October, starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant as Grace and Jonathan Fraser, who are living the only lives they ever wanted for themselves.

Overnight, a chasm opens their lives: a violent death and a chain of terrible revelations. Left behind in the wake of a very public disaster and horrified by the ways in which she failed to heed her own advice, Grace must dismantle one life and create another.

No specific premiere date on HBO Max has been set for the comedic thriller “The Flight Attendant,” but we know that Kelly Cuoco in the starring role finds her entire life can change in one night.

As the titular character, Cuoco wakes up in the wrong hotel hungover from the night before, in the wrong bed, with a dead man – and no idea what happened. The miniseries is based on the novel of the same name by best-selling author Chris Bohjalian.

Ridley Scott’s “Raised by Wolves” on HBO Max centers on two androids tasked with raising human children on a mysterious virgin planet. With more humans on the planet, the androids learn that controlling the beliefs of humans is a treacherous and difficult task.

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

Upcoming Calendar

10May
05.10.2021 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Woodland Community College forum
11May
05.11.2021 9:00 am - 12:00 pm
Board of Supervisors
11May
05.11.2021 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Lake County Farmers’ Finest Tuesday market
12May
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
16May
05.16.2021 9:00 am - 2:00 pm
Lake County Fair cleanup event
17May
05.17.2021
Tax Day
18May
05.18.2021 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Lake County Farmers’ Finest Tuesday market
22May
05.22.2021 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Lake County Farmers’ Finest Saturday market

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