Monday, 24 June 2024

Arts & Life

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. — The Lake County Arts Council, with support from the California Arts Council, is seeking experienced poet teachers to teach 10 one-hour sessions in 11th grade high school classes in local Lake County high schools.

Classes will be held at Upper Lake High School, Kelseyville High School, and Lloyd P Hance Community.

The purpose of this program is to inspire students to pursue poetry and encourage them to participate in the Lake County Arts Council's other literary arts programs, such as Poetry Out Loud and Youth Poet Laureate.

The Arts Council is seeking poet teachers who have a strong background in poetry, including historical knowledge and experience presenting different poetry styles.

Additionally, poet teachers should be able to provide tips on how to compose one's own poetry, as this program aims to help students develop their own poetic voices.

Poet teachers will also be helping students compile a portfolio and resume to aid in their post high school success.

Poet teachers will be provided with a skeleton lesson plan, which they can personalize by incorporating their favorite poets, poems, and poetic preferences.

The Arts Council encourages instructors to draw from their own experiences and interests in poetry to create an engaging and dynamic learning environment for our students.

As the program will take place on school grounds, poet teachers may be required to undergo fingerprinting and a background check.

The Lake County Arts Council will provide guidance and payment for these fees as necessary.

In addition to developing lesson plans and materials for each session, poet teachers will be responsible for leading interactive activities and assignments to engage students with poetry.

The Arts Council is looking for dynamic and enthusiastic instructors who are passionate about sharing their love of poetry with the next generation of writers.

If you are a Poet Teacher with experience in teaching and a passion for poetry, you are encouraged to apply for this opportunity to make a difference in the lives of young people in the community.

Please submit your resume, a cover letter outlining your qualifications and interest in the position, and samples of your artistic work to the Lake County Arts Council at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

All applications should be submitted by June 30.

The Lake County Arts Council is an Equal Opportunity Employer. It is committed to equal opportunity regardless of race, color, ancestry, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, age, citizenship, marital status, disability, gender identity or veteran status.


Unless you are already a fan of stand-up comedian Bert Kreischer, you might want to watch his Netflix special before attempting to fully grasp what is in store with “The Machine.”

For one thing, you will become frighteningly aware that his schtick requires him to perform shirtless in full potbellied glory, a routine that seemingly dates back to his college days before he embarked on his entertainment career.

Kreischer’s love of booze (apparently vodka) and hard-partying occupied his seven years (shades of “Animal House”) of fraternity living at Florida State University, once deemed the top party school in the country.

Heavy drinking and wild antics during college gained the comedian a large measure of notoriety with an article in “Rolling Stone” that resulted in Oliver Stone buying the film rights to the story.

The intended cinematic project of Kreischer’s story failed to materialize, but it did inspire, without the comedian’s involvement, “National Lampoon’s Van Wilder” in which Ryan Reynolds as the titular character engaged in a party lifestyle.

During his collegiate years, Kreischer enrolled in a Russian language course and admits never learning much of anything after two full years. Somehow, he ended up in a summer program in Russia.

Assisted in flashbacks to his younger self (portrayed by Jimmy Tatro), Kreischer inadvertently got mixed up with the Russian mob during a train trip to Moscow with his fellow students.

The booze-soaked ride on the rails resulted in Kreischer helping the mobsters to rob everyone on the train, and now this youthful indiscretion is coming back to haunt him.

Apparently, there may be truth to this story of the train robbery, but here the comedian is playing a fictionalized version of himself and one has to wonder where the line crosses into fiction.

As the film begins, Kreischer is in therapy sessions with his wife (Stephanie Kurtzuba) and two daughters, with the oldest one (Jess Gabor) holding a prototypical teenage grudge against her father’s antics.

Things only get worse when Kreischer manages to embarrass his oldest child at her sweet sixteen party, and his estranged father Albert (Mark Hamill) unexpectedly arrives from Florida.

The birthday party goes downhill even more when Russian mobster Irina (Iva Babic) turns up and kidnaps Kreischer and his father at gunpoint because the comedian stole a treasured pocket watch that belongs to her father.

Irina expects Kreischer to retrace his steps from his Russia trip more than two decades earlier, and if he fails to find the family heirloom, his teen daughter will be expendable.

A fair question to ask is how did Irina and her thugs manage to extract Kreischer and his father from our soil and end up in Russia. In the blink of an eye, they are on a train ride through Russia to relive a decades-old experience.

All that matters is the core of the story is the action in Russia, which alternates between the 1998 college version of Kreischer and the middle-aged man forced to endure a dark period of conflict with unforgiving mobsters.

At least, the drunken student Bert looked to party with the Russians and called himself “The Machine” as proof that his hard-partying lifestyle would make him a legend, which explains not only this movie but the image he carries into his stand-up routines.

“The Machine” straddles the line between comedy and action, and in the end doesn’t really bring it together in a cohesive manner. The transition from stand-up to supposed action comedy doesn’t land the jokes very well.

Die-hard fans of Kreischer may be more forgiving or understanding. After all, they are the target audience, even if this film proves not to be as memorable as the comedian’s streaming stand-up routines.


A four-part spy drama based on one of the greatest espionage stories of modern times, “Ghosts of Beirut” is the story of the manhunt for Imad Mughniyeh, the elusive Lebanese terrorist who outwitted his adversaries in the CIA and Mossad for over two decades.

The limited series reveals the origins of 21-year-old Mughniyeh (also known as “The Ghost”) who emerged from obscurity and was responsible for more American deaths than any other individual event prior to 9/11.

Told from American, Israeli and Lebanese perspectives, the series traces Mughniyeh’s origins from the Shiite slums of South Beirut to his masterminding of the concept of suicide bombers, a deadly tactic that led to his swift rise as the world’s most dangerous terrorist.

Based on extensive research of still-classified events, the drama spans decades and weaves in first-hand, real-life interviews with prominent officials from the CIA and Mossad, connecting the turmoil of 1980s Beirut with the spy games of the modern Middle East.

“Ghosts of Beirut,” which is streaming on Showtime, features an innovative narrative approach augmented by deep journalistic research and documentary elements. True spy stories are always fascinating.

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

‘FAST X’ Rated PG-13

The “Fast and Furious” franchise has been a global sensation for more than two decades, and has shown no signs of abating, because in Hollywood there’s no such truism as too much of a good thing.

In case you have lost count of the number of installments of this high-octane saga, the Roman numeral in “Fast X” should be the clue that this is a milestone anniversary for the fan base to celebrate.

Does “X” mark the spot for a conclusion to the adventures of wheelman Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his extended family that is now threatened by a lethal adversary emerging from the shadows of the past?

The answer to that question may be found in the closing credits which seem almost interminable. Or the sign may point to the anticipated box office success of this chapter, which nobody wants to leave behind.

As a refresher on the series, 2001’s “The Fast and The Furious” was a regional story about the subculture of street racers in Los Angeles who dabbled in crime on the side, and since then the franchise has morphed into international intrigue.

The global plots have allowed the transition from muscle-car racing to ever more preposterous plots of scheming in exotic foreign locales, and here it is a rather extensive chase through the streets of Rome to stop a runaway bomb from destroying the city center.

But first, there is a flashback to 2011’s “Fast Five,” in which Dom and his crew took out nefarious Brazilian drug kingpin Hernan Reyes (Joaquim del Almeida) and decimated his empire on a bridge in Rio de Janeiro.

What the racing enthusiasts didn’t know was that Reyes’s son, Dante (the hulky Jason Momoa), witnessed it all and has spent the last 12 years festering in a revenge plot to make Dom pay the ultimate price.

For the Roman sequence, Dom and his loyal compatriots, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), and the bickering and bantering duo of Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges), end up getting played by Dante, the puppet master masterminding their wild ride.

When the action subsides only briefly, Dom takes the occasions to talk solemnly about the importance of family, which takes on new meaning as he enlists his formerly estranged brother Jakob (John Cena) to protect his young son Brian (Lio Abelo Perry).

Of course, Dom has also been protective of Letty, who in her own right is a fierce and fiery warrior, a talent on full display in a tough battle with Cipher (Charlize Theron), until they realize having a common enemy.

Kurt Russell is missed as Mr. Nobody, the secretive Agency honcho, but his daughter Tess (Brie Larson) is a helpful rogue agent, because Mr. Nobody’s replacement, Aimes (Alan Ritchson) does not have the backs of Dom’s crew.

Dom’s sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) plays the familiar role of den mother. Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw crosses paths with the group when they encounter a common enemy. Blink and you might miss Helen Mirren’s Queenie and Scott Eastwood’s ambitious government agent Little Nobody.

“Fast X” is arguably designed mostly, if not exclusively, for its rabid fan base, with nostalgia creeping in through the flashbacks to the fifth chapter, in which the late Paul Walker is still part of the Toretto universe.

If you happen to drift into a showing of this tenth chapter, a scorecard would be needed to keep track of all the characters, both old and new. How did Rita Moreno get into the act, as the grandmother of the Toretto siblings no less?

Frankly, even if you’ve kept up with many, if not all, of the films, the proceedings have become so convoluted with an excess of high-speed chases, detonations, and death-defying stunts that a sense of bewilderment may set in.

While Vin Diesel and company don’t disappoint as time has allowed them to slip so comfortably confident into their characters, a flamboyant Jason Momoa is so amusingly unhinged as the vengeful villain that he practically steals every scene when he revels in his merciless taunts.

Action junkies of all stripes, even if only vaguely familiar with this franchise, may get a kick out of Dom dropping out of the back of plane in his muscle car, and then there’s the excitement of drag racing in Rio. For some, this never gets old.

The bloated plot spreads the heroes across the diverse locations of Los Angeles, London, Rome, Portugal, and Brazil. Antarctica is in the picture, but for reasons not entirely clear. In any event, the excess is in keeping with how things have to move fast.

“Fast X” has a lot in common with superhero films, such as those in the Marvel universe, in that the hardcore fans will not be deterred by even the slightest doubt expressed by any critics, choosing to undoubtedly enjoy the chaos and mayhem.

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

Clovice Lewis. Photo by Olivia Consterdine.

MIDDLETOWN, Calif. — The Middletown Art Center proud to announce that on June 19, 2023, renowned Unitarian Universalist minister, social activist and musician Clovice Lewis will be delivering a powerful and thought-provoking speech as part of the Juneteenth celebration.

Lewis aims to commemorate the emancipation of enslaved individuals in the United States and shed light on the ongoing struggle for racial justice and equality.

Joining Lewis for this third annual Juneteenth Celebration at MAC will be Gospel band Joyful Noise at 5:30 p.m. and Andre Williams and Friends at 7 p.m. Lewis will speak at 6:15 p.m.

Tickets are available in advance online at for $15, at the door for $20 or $30 for two.

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Food by Goddess of the Mountain and beverages will be available for purchase.

Lewis’ speech will explore the deep divisions that exist in the United States from our founding as a nation to the present day around race and ethnicity. He notes that what is now celebrated as the “final” day of emancipation for African Americans is the result of misinformation and oppression employed by white supremacists during the Civil War era.

Drawing parallels to the present day, Lewis asserts that there are individuals today who, like their white supremacist ancestors, use misinformation, deceit, propaganda, and violence to further their political ends.

They seek to rewrite history and deny the existence of systemic racism, prejudice, and racial bias that has plagued our nation. Lewis will address the urgent need to confront these issues and dismantle the stranglehold they have on the true potential of our society.

The Middletown Art Center invites all community members to attend this enlightening and impactful event. Lewis's speech promises to be a catalyst for dialogue, understanding, and action towards creating a more just and equitable society for all.

Lewis is a highly respected Unitarian Universalist minister, social activist and musician known for his unwavering commitment to social justice, racial equality, and inclusive spirituality.

Through his speeches, sermons and music, Lewis engages audiences, challenging them to confront systemic injustices and work towards building a more compassionate and equitable world.

The Middletown Art Center is a vibrant cultural hub dedicated to promoting artistic expression, fostering dialogue, and inspiring social change.

Through exhibitions, performances, workshops, and community events, the Art Center provides a platform for diverse voices and perspectives, striving to create an inclusive and accessible space for all. Learn more about the MAC and ways to support their vital work at

The MAC is located at 21456 State Highway 175 at the junction of Hwy 29 in Middletown. Call 707-809-8118 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information or accessibility assistance.

MIDDLETOWN, Calif. — The Middletown Area Merchants Association will host the first of this summer’s free movies in Middletown Square Park on Saturday, June 10.

The featured movie, “Wall-E,” will be shown beginning at dusk.

Come early to enjoy an evening in Middletown.

Bring chairs, blankets and a picnic to the park at the library and senior center at 21266 Calistoga Road.

The next movie in the series, “Vivo,” will be shown July 8.


The world of professional baseball has seen its share of players that are eccentric, or maybe just a little bit careening through outer space, like the 1970s Red Sox pitcher Bill Lee who was appropriately nicknamed “Spaceman.”

Then there was pitcher Mark “The Bird” Fidrych, the 1979 Rookie of the Year, whose antics on the mound made him a fan favorite, as he would talk to the ball and manicure the mound on his hands and knees to his satisfaction.

What is it about pitchers, though? As a rookie with the Angels in 1962, Bo Belinsky became a celebrity for his no-hitter. But it seems his notoriety came from being linked with movie stars such as Ann-Margret, Connie Stevens and Mamie Van Doren.

Catcher for four teams, Bob Uecker gained his fame not as a player but as a broadcaster for the Milwaukee Brewers who moonlighted most famously as wacky broadcaster Harry Doyle for the woeful Cleveland Indians in “Major League,” one of the funniest sports movies ever.

While there are plenty of other interesting characters in baseball, none may be more entertaining and lovable than Lawrence “Yogi” Berra, who deserves to live on in our memories to this day not just for his Hall of Fame career, but for being an American folk hero.

You don’t have to be a New York Yankees fan to love the documentary “It Ain’t Over,” the story of catcher Yogi Berra, a native of St. Louis who signed with the Bronx team before serving with combat distinction in the Navy during World War II, including the Normandy landing.

The promo for this film calls the Yankees the “most storied franchise in Major League Baseball history.” You’ll get an argument on this point from teams such as the Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers, and especially from the Boston Red Sox, bitter rivals to that team in the Bronx.

No other player ended up with ten World Series rings, plus an additional three as a coach after his playing days. He was a three-time MVP in the American League, and had a staggering 18 All-Star Game appearances.

On top of these honors, Yogi went on to catch the only perfect game in World Series history in 1956 as the backstop for pitcher Don Larsen, when the Yankees defeated the Brooklyn Dodgers.

The documentary features commentary from well-known retired Yankees, such as manager Joe Torre, pitcher Ron Guidry, closer Mariano Rivera, shortstop Derek Jeter, first baseman Don Mattingly and second baseman Willie Randolph.

No documentary would seem to be complete without commentary from baseball experts like the late Dodger broadcaster Vin Scully, the late sportswriter Roger Angell, and sports announcer and commentator Bob Costas.

In anybody’s book, Yogi’s prolific accomplishments on the ballfield were overshadowed by his amazingly appealing personality, much of it fueled by his “Yogi-isms,” such as the most-famous “It ain’t over til it’s over.”

Part of the fun here is the juxtaposition of Yogi-isms with the famous words of scientists, playwrights, philosophers, and other learned folks.

Confucius claimed “Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance,” while Yogi came up with: “In baseball, you don’t know nothing.”

The brilliant Stephen Hawking opined that “One of the basic rules of the universe is that nothing is perfect.” For Yogi, it made perfect sense to say “If the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be.”

Maybe the most relevant contrast is Yogi’s “I’d be pretty dumb if all of a sudden I started being something I’m not,” compared to Shakespeare’s “This above all, to thine own self be true.”

A pivotal figure behind this documentary is Yogi’s oldest granddaughter Lindsay Berra, a freelance sports journalist, and the executive director of the film. She noted that Yogi, a man of short and squat stature, did not look like a Yankee.

Others said that no one thought he could hit and that he looked like a fire hydrant. As for Vin Scully, the broadcast legend found that everything about Yogi was “kinda funny.”

Fortunately, Lindsay Berra, along with Yogi’s sons Dale, Tim and Larry, paint the portrait of a devoted family man, particularly for the touching love story of his long and happy marriage to Carmen.

“It Ain’t Over” also does not shy away from the ugliness of Yogi abrupt firing as Yankee manager after only 16 games by the assistant to team owner George Steinbrenner, leading to a feud that lasted about a decade-and-a-half.

If as a baseball fan you hold any animus towards the Yankees, an appreciation of the life of Yogi Berra should transcend and overcome such negativity.

The legendary Yankee catcher is an iconic sports figure who is worthy of the homage that is paid by “It Ain’t Over.” Be sure not to miss it, wherever it may play or when it comes out on DVD or a streaming service.

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

Upcoming Calendar

06.25.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
06.29.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
07.02.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
Independence Day
07.06.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
07.09.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
07.13.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
07.16.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
07.20.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile

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