Saturday, 18 September 2021

Arts & Life

MIDDLETOWN, Calif. — This year the Middletown Art Center celebrates seven years of serving Lake County and is doing so by transforming into the MAC.

As part of this growth, the MAC is calling everyone (artist or not) to help visualize their future with an art competition for a new logo.

First place prize is $500.

After popular demand the deadline has been extended to Sept. 24.

The winning design will be the basis for a new MAC logo, which will be installed as a sign on the MAC’s home at the junction of Highways 175 and 28, the most traveled intersection in South Lake County.

The design winner and runners-up will be recognized at the MAC For Lake County launch event on Oct. 9.

Submission deadline for designs is Sept. 24 and competition guidelines can be found on the MAC website.

Celebrate the Middletown Art Center officially becoming MAC at the MAC For Lake County event on Oct. 9.

Event will include a collaborative and interactive artwork, Lake County speakers, a tour of MAC’s 3D Virtual Exhibit living archive, complimentary wine tasting, a silent auction and more.

Visit https://www.middletownartcenter.org/7-year-sign.html for more information.

Last year, the US Open tennis tournament in New York proceeded without fans and only a handful of media were on hand to cover the event.

This year, due to the outdoor nature of the venue, full capacity is allowed for fans, but much less so for the media.

Once again, our coverage is limited to the remote method, which is about thrilling as grocery shopping or standing in a queue for more than a day to be among the first to see the newest “Star Wars” film (apologies to the hardcore fans).

Maybe being remote this year is just as well. US Open distributed a media guide which informs that only every other workstation will be available, meaning you would have an empty desk next to you. Are people aware that many commercial airplanes are flying at full capacity?

As of this writing, the US Open’s media-only site has malfunctioned, adding to frustration on coverage options. Here’s hoping that next year we are back to in-person reporting, especially to chronicle the awesome fan experience.

What’s more, the media dining room isn’t open for food service. Media have to dine in the food courts, but on the plus side, the daily meal allowance has been doubled. The good news for the media and the fans is that this year’s food experience looks to be better than ever.

The largest retail and dining experience in the world, Eataly is a new concession. The gourmet sandwiches of Brooklyn-based Stuf’d make their debut. Also new is Stacked Sandwich Shop offering a vegan muffuletta. Hunger pangs are setting in now.

One sign that the pandemic has taken a toll is that the US Open has launched a mental health initiative to support the players with the “necessary resources to compete at the highest level.”

On Opening Night, tennis legend Billie Jean King remarked that the “heart of New York City is Broadway and Broadway is back,” thus introducing the evening’s entertainment prior to the first match.

Beginning first with the backup singers, the Tony award-nominated “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” provided a taste for the fans with show stars Aaron Tveit and Natalie Mendoza headlining the ceremonial performance.

A coincidence of bad timing, this year’s US Open suffers from the withdrawal of several marquee players. For the first time since 2003, both American sisters Serena and Venus Williams are not participating.

Still a teenager, Coco Gauff, who reached the third round in her first appearance at the US Open and now ranked No. 23, is clearly someone to watch, but lost to fellow American Sloane Stephens in straight sets. Notwithstanding the loss, Gauff competes in women’s doubles.

On the men’s side, stars Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are out due to injuries. Thus, the path may be cleared for Novak Djokovic to pull of the feat of winning the grand slam of the four major tournaments if he takes the Open’s championship trophy.

Even if the star power of the top tennis icons is missing, it’s worth watching on ESPN to see if Djokovic prevails or how far an American player goes.

While thirteen American men advanced to the second round, the most since 1994, setbacks still remain since America’s highest-ranked male player John Isner lost in the first round.

CABLE TV PREVIEW

This should be a preview of upcoming programs, but for the Hulu streaming service the fall season has mostly begun, notably with Steve Martin in a comedic murder-mystery series he helped to develop with creative partners Dan Fogelman and John Hoffman.

“Only Murders in the Building” follows three strangers (Martin, Selena Gomez and Martin Short) living in an apartment building on New York’s tony Upper West Side and who share an obsession with true crime and suddenly find themselves wrapped up in one.

With this triangle of two Boomers and one Millennial as amateur sleuths investigating a murder, we not only get a great cast with chemistry but a delightfully funny series. Adding to the comic formula is Nathan Lane in a recurring role.

Based on Liane Moriarty’s bestselling book, “Nine Perfect Strangers” is an eight-episode series with an ensemble cast that include notable figures who converge at a wellness resort that seems as dull as it is pretentious.

The Tranquillum House spa is run inexplicably by Nicole Kidman’s Masha, a Russian as autocratic as Vladimir Putin but at least not riding a horse shirtless like the leader of her homeland.

After viewing a few episodes, it seems that the visitors for the ten-day retreat are asking themselves how did they end up in this lush yet dubious place. I started asking myself the same even when it was fun to watch Melissa McCarthy and Bobby Cannavale sparring.

A limited series inspired by Beth Macy’s book, “Dopesick” arrives later this fall to examine how one company triggered the worst drug epidemic in American history.

In the struggle with opioid addiction, “Dopesick” has its heroes emerging in an intense and thrilling ride to take down the craven corporate forces behind this national crisis.

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




‘FREE GUY’ RATED PG-13

Failing to be an aficionado of video games, I approach a review of “Free Guy” with some measure of trepidation for fear of misrepresenting the mechanics of what unfolds.

Even to the uninitiated, Ryan Reynolds’s primary role is that of a background character named Guy in a violent video game that is called “Free City.” In his gaming world, Guy is a bank teller where his best friend is Buddy (Lil Rel Howery).

Given his status as an NPC (Non-Player Character), Guy wears the same blue shirt and khaki pants every day, wakes up to his goldfish, orders the same bland cup of coffee, and goes to work where he endures daily violent robberies.

Guy and his pal Buddy, a security guard at the same bank, cheerfully brave their daily routine. Guy’s usual greeting is “Don’t have a good day; have a great day!” Everyday is “Groundhog Day” until he spies the pretty, unapproachable Molotov Girl (Jodie Comer).

Back in the real world, Guy’s dream girl is based on game architect Millie (Jodie Comer), who developed “Free City” with colleague Keys (Joe Keery). Both of them find their game being purloined by Soonami Studios CEO Antwan (Taika Waititi).

Possessed of a token amount of Artificial Intelligence, Guy desires to activate his free will and become part of the action, if for no better reason than he’s falling for Molotov Girl and hoping for a romance that seems unrealistic.

Meanwhile, Antwan is the epitome of an arrogant, greedy corporate villain. He’s appalled that a liberated Guy, who becomes known as “Blue Shirt Guy,” threatens the orderly nature of his gaming world.

What’s at stake, at least for Antwan, is the pending release of the sequel to the “Free City” video game, a version that would not be compatible with Guy and his NPC cohorts.

Apparently, Antwan cares not at all about his promise to his programmer Keys and creator Millie that the sequel “Free City 2” would uphold components of the original. This explains why Millie is on the outside with a lawsuit against Soonami.

Skullduggery by Antwan leads Keys and others to find ways to expose the villainous corporate honcho’s efforts to conceal the game’s code in order to destroy the upstart Blue Shirt Guy’s growing popularity.

For gamers and non-gamers alike, sweating the operational details of this video game action comedy would likely be pointless. “Free Guy” can be appreciated for the wit and charm of the guy in the blue shirt.

Ryan Reynolds, master of frenetic comedic demeanor (think “Deadpool”), shines with a low-key charisma that brings a rooting interest in his character. Be assured, however, that some fine gags result in agreeable laughs.

CABLE TV PREVIEW

The fall season is upon us, with many new cable programs. From executive producer Curtis “50 cent” Jackson, Starz’s new series “BMF” is inspired by the true story of two brothers who rose from the streets of Detroit in the late 1980s to become a crime family.

Demetrius “Big Meech” Flenory (Demetrius “Lil Meech” Flenory Jr.) and Terry “Southwest T” Flenory (Da’Vinchi) exercise business acumen and a vision beyond the drug trade into the world of Hip Hop to become iconic on a global level.

Their unwavering belief in family loyalty would be the cornerstone of their partnership and the crux of their eventual estrangement. “BMF” is a story about love, kinship and capitalism in the pursuit of the American dream.

The first season of “Heels” on Starz has already started but there’s time to catch up to this story about the people who chase their dreams in the world of small-town pro wrestling.

Set in a close-knit Georgia community, “Heels” follows a family-owned wrestling promotion as two brothers and rivals, Jack Spade (Stephen Amell) and Ace Spade (Alexander Ludwig) war over their late father’s legacy in the ring.

During the TV press tour, Ludwig reported that training for the series made the actors realize “just how much athleticism goes into this sport.”

There will be a longer wait for the launch of Starz’s “Shining Vale,” a horror comedy about a dysfunctional family that moves from the city to a small town into a house in which terrible atrocities have taken place.

No one seems to notice the strange history of the house except for Pat (Courteney Cox), who’s convinced she’s either depressed or possessed – turns out, the symptoms are exactly the same.

Pat is a former “wild child” who rose to fame by writing a raunchy, drug-and-alcohol-soaked women’s empowerment novel. Now 17 years later, Pat is clean and sober but totally unfulfilled.

In the new house, Pat is the only one to whom Rosemary (Mira Sorvino) is visible. During the press tour, Sorvino was cagey in saying much about her character, other than she's “really colorful” and “sort of scary.”

Pat and her husband Terry (Greg Kinnear) are working on a last-ditch effort to save their marriage. Maybe living in an old house in the suburbs where evil and humor collide may complicate matters.

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

Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

Jehanne Dubrow’s finely crafted sonnet, her own “simple machine,” reminds us so well of that moment, full of contradictory emotions, when the things we think are “unfailing”, fail us. She reflects on the fear of having to put aside an old, cherished thing to acquire what she calls “clean and bright” things. In the end, time wins.

The poem is from a collection of sonnets recently published in her book, “Simple Machine: Sonnets.”

[“Sometimes we wonder what unfailing means…”]
By Jehanne Dubrow
Sometimes we wonder what unfailing means
when nothing’s warrantied to last. Our car
breaks down among the clay-red hills, ravines
unmarked. Nowhere, New Mexico. We’re far
from cities that we know. It takes three days
to tow our brokenness across the state,
driving half-speed and braking for delays,
the detours up ahead. I navigate.
You drive. I tell you, I want clean and bright,
to trade in clattering and rubberneck
for speed or just fidelity. The light
is leaking from the sky, our trip a wreck.
You say, repairing engines is an art—
all of these small devices split apart.


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 Jehanne Dubrow, [“Sometimes we wonder what unfailing means…”] from Simple Machine: Sonnets, (University of Evansville Press, 2020.) Poem reprinted by permission of the author 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.

Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

It’s been some months since our last election, but it is always good to be reminded, in this poem by Kamilah Aisha Moon, of how precious and hard-won the right to vote and the act of voting are.

1st VOTE
By Kamilah Aisha Moon

It was hers.
She had this choice
behind curtained bliss,
Dad’s chest full on the other side
as her tapered hand
pulled the lever.

No matter how wide
the final margin,
a lone ballot
never counted so much.

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 Kamilah Aisha Moon, “1st Vote” from She Has a Name (Four Way Books, 2013.) Poem reprinted by permission of the author 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.

Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

Kimiko Hahn’s father was born and raised in Wisconsin. A place that has now become part of his daughter’s imagination.

She herself is a woman of many arrivals and departures, and thus a woman fascinated by the complex meaning of “home”, as she shows here in this sonnet.

The life-cycle of the cicada offers a splendid opportunity for her to speak of childhood, maturation and change as part of the parent-child experience.

Reckless Sonnet No. 8
By Kimiko Hahn

My father, as a boy in Milwaukee, thought
the cicada’s cry was the whir from a live wire—
not from muscles on the sides of an insect
vibrating against an outer membrane. Strange though
that, because they have no ears, no one knows why
the males cry so doggedly into the gray air.
Not strange that the young live underground sucking sap
from tree roots
for seventeen years. A long, charmed childhood
not unlike one in a Great Lake town where at dusk
you’d pack up swimsuit, shake sand off your towel
and head back to lights in the two-family sat around the radio.
And parents argued over their son and daughter
until each left for good. To cry in the air.


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 ©2002 by Kimiko Hahn, "Reckless Sonnet No.8." from The Artist’s Daughter, (W.W Norton & Company, 2002). Poem reprinted by permission of the author 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.

Upcoming Calendar

18Sep
09.18.2021 8:00 pm - 8:45 pm
‘Hunters of the Skies’
19Sep
09.19.2021 9:00 am - 3:00 pm
Big Valley Small Farms Tour
20Sep
09.20.2021 5:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Lake County 29'ers Cribbage Club Meeting
21Sep
09.21.2021 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Lake County Farmers’ Finest Tuesday market
22Sep
09.22.2021 10:00 am - 4:00 pm
Lake and Mendocino Stand Down and Resource Fair
23Sep
09.23.2021 9:00 am - 11:00 am
Savings Bank drive-up shred event
23Sep
09.23.2021 5:30 pm - 8:00 pm
Westside Community Horse Park planning meeting
24Sep
09.24.2021 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Clear Lake State Park Visitor Center tour
25Sep
09.25.2021 10:00 am - 2:00 pm
Clear Lake State Park Visitor Center tour
26Sep
09.26.2021 10:00 am - 2:00 pm
Clear Lake State Park Visitor Center tour

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