Sunday, 16 June 2024

Arts & Life

The William Scott Forbes Band will perform at the Taurus Party. Courtesy photo.

MIDDLETOWN, Calif. — The Middletown Art Center will host the return of the Taurus Party on Saturday, May 13.

The event will take place from 7 to 11 p.m. at the center, 21456 State Highway 175.

Tickets are only $15 and will be sold at the door. Food and beverages will be available for sale. Movies and art fun will be available for children.

Back in 1992, Mark Nichols, an artist and blacksmith from Middletown, began throwing a group birthday party for himself and friends whose birthdays fell under the zodiac sign of Taurus, and thus began 31 years of a long-standing Middletown community tradition — the Taurus Party.

Nichols aka “Bubblemeister” or “Metalsmith Mark” hosted the first few Taurus Parties at Harbin Hot Springs and it later moved to his private property in Middletown.

The parties got bigger and always featured live music and other forms of entertainment including fire dancers, performance artists, drum circles and a bouncy house for the kids.

The parties were so loved and well attended that, about 10 years ago, additional astrological themed parties were added as well as a Halloween party.

After the Valley fire, Nichols relocated and then COVID prevented the ability to gather, until now.

This year The Middletown Art Center is honored to host the return of The Taurus Party.

The public is invited to join in celebrating all of its favorite Taurus Bulls in an all-out birthday bash including a performance by the William Scott Forbes band, non-fire fire dancing, food by Goddess of the Mountain, Delights drum circle, and an opportunity to make art for International World Collage Day.

About the band: Singer/songwriter William Scott Forbes was born and raised in rural Northern California where he picked up the electric guitar at an early age. His alt-country sound and songwriting is distinctive but influenced by Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton and Mark Knopfler.

He grew up in Middletown in Lake County before relocating to Mendocino County where he attended Laytonville High School and studied music at Santa Rosa Junior College.

He was partly raised by his late aunt who encouraged him and shared his belief in the positive power of music. Today he's grateful to have the privilege of playing with a top notch band that performs as the William Scott Forbes Band in venues large and small around California's beautiful North Coast.

Questions can be directed to 707-355-0595 (Mark), 707-809-8118 (MAC) or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

LAKEPORT, Calif. — The Lake County Community and Youth Orchestra, under the direction of Dr. Camm Linden, will perform at the beginning of Lake County Symphony’s “Pre-Mother’s Day Concert” at 2 p.m., May 7 at the Soper Reese Theatre.

They start with “Adventures in Wonderland” by Paul Barker. In keeping with the LCSA tribute to the movies and stage, the LCCYO opens with this lighthearted contemporary piece.

Expect a cinematic theme layered with harmonic contrasts and accompanied by a constant, energetic rhythm.

Their next piece is “Siyahamba” a traditional South African folk song. The title of this engaging selection translates to “We are marching under the light” and is considered an ever-evolving part of the Zulu culture.

As the piece is passed down, each generation adapts it to their own sense of rhythm and notes. As such, it is thought there is “no wrong way” to perform this tune, if it is done in the spirit of joy and unity, arranged by Douglas Wagner.

“Smooth” written by Itaal Shur and Rob Thomas should sound familiar. This hit song was most famously performed by Carlos Santana on his 1999 “Supernatural” album.

Legendary music producer, Clive Davis, had to twist Santana's arm to record “Smooth” — a recording which eventually became Billboard's second-most popular single of all time.

This piece has been featured in several movies including “Keeping the Faith” and “Love Actually,” arranged by Jerry Brubaker.

Tickets for the concert are $25 for general seating and $30 for premium; they are available for purchase on the Soper Reese website, LCSA members receive a $5 discount.

Please arrive 30 minutes early when buying tickets at the door for the regular 2 p.m. concert.

There is also an 11 a.m. dress rehearsal performance which costs $5 for adults and is free for those for those under 18. Please arrive extra early for this rehearsal concert to ensure a seat.


Though not a marquee actor in the big box office sense, Toni Collette is nonetheless a phenomenal performer who deserves a film role that rises above the rather pedestrian assignment of suburban housewife thrust into a Mafia empire.

As so cheekily cast into the titular role of “Mafia Mamma,” Collette’s Kristin is first seen as the doting mother to a teenage son (Tommy Rodger) heading off to college and working in a marketing job that’s as exciting as finding a toy in a cereal box.

On top of perpetual worry about her son leaving home, Kristin is crushed to find that her immature husband Paul (Tim Daish), performing in a second-rate rock band, is cheating on her with a ditzy rock groupie.

News arrives that the Italian paternal grandfather she never knew has died, and that as the sole heir she needs to attend the funeral. The idea of taking a vacation in the ancestral homeland sounds like a good idea.

Good food and gelato await, but alas, she has no clue that grandpa Don Giuseppe Balbano (Alessandro Bressanello) has bequeathed to her the family business that is embroiled in a blood feud with the Romano family.

With the help of Balbano consigliere Bianca (Monica Bellucci), Kristin overcomes her understandable reluctance to step into the role of running a criminal enterprise that she’d rather make legit over the strenuous objections of hot-tempered cousin Fabrizio (Eduardo Scarpetta).

Fortuitous circumstances that seem unlikely allow Kristin to obtain some respect from other mafia figures but she’d prefer to have a fling with the handsome Lorenzo (Giulio Corso) that she met at the airport.

While Kristin would rather make wine and be seduced by an Italian hunk, the gangster film genre certainly won’t get a boost from limp references to “The Godfather.”

A Zoom meeting with her male colleagues planning a sexist ad campaign turns hilarious when the men are oblivious to Kristin fighting off an assassin. This just might be the highlight of the film.

Sad enough for an idea that sounded promising, “Mafia Mamma” turns flat like an extremely thin crust pizza.

The glimmer of actual jokes surface with the regularity of a Metro bus in Los Angeles, which is to say not often.


As Yogi Berra once said to Yankee players, “You can observe a lot by watching.” You can also learn a lot and gain insight into show business at the TCM Classic Film Festival by attending a special presentation.

One such event that proved fascinating was “You Gotta Have a Gimmick: The Warner Bros. Trailers Show,” hosted by Randy Haberkamp of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Anyone who goes to the local multiplex knows that the previews of upcoming attractions have an impact on whether a future film release holds potential interest.

“The Trailers Show” demonstrated how advertising wizards were clever enough to pack theaters. “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?,” starring sibling rivals Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, may have gotten a boost with the tagline: “Try to remember this is only a motion picture.”

Another gem for Joan Crawford was the film noir “Mildred Pierce,” in which her titular role as the femme fatale was noted in the clip of Zachary Scott saying she “had more to offer a man in a glance than most women give in a lifetime.”

More to the point of Crawford’s role of the seductive woman likely to cause distress to a man involved with her, the most instructive tagline was Jack Carson’s observation that “loving her was like shaking hands with the devil.”

Haberkamp remarked that “films reflect their times,” and one must wonder at the pitch made for the 1953 Vincent Price horror film “House of Wax,” which did not feature either a single scene or actor in the promotional trailer.

The “House of Wax” trailer was a two-minute drill of taglines, from “It is Like Nothing That Has Ever Happened to You Before…” to “Every Astounding Scene in the Story Comes as Close as the Person Next to You … and You are Part of the Living Drama.”

The prize for best trailer might go to “Casablanca,” in which Humphrey Bogart is described as “the most dangerous man in the most dangerous city.”

A screening of “The Jackie Robinson Story,” which coincided with the actual day that he broke the color barrier of Major League Baseball, was not only fun to see the Brooklyn Dodgers first baseman playing himself, but offered glimpses into his personal journey.

Better still was the participation of his granddaughter Ayo Robinson who noted that all that Jackie wanted was respect as a human being. She pointed out that “acting was not quite his forte,” even if a prominent newspaper said he was very authentic in the film.

Interestingly enough, “The Jackie Robinson Story” omits some of the more vitriolic and hateful words and acts that confronted Jackie on and off the playing field.

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


Missing from the poster art and the trailers, the tag line for “Renfield” is apparently “Evil doesn’t span eternity without a little help.” The “evil,” of course, as you may guess from the titular character’s association, refers to Count Dracula.

The help comes from the tortured aide of history’s most narcissistic boss, the bloodsucking vampire we all know and love from a plethora of films and novels.

Trapped in an eternal hell is the hapless Renfield (Nicholas Hoult), who is forced to procure his master’s prey. He’s ready to break free if only he can escape the Stockholm Syndrome.

Life has become so intolerable for Renfield that he joined a support group that deals with toxic relationships. Ready to see if there’s life outside the shadow of the Prince of Darkness, Renfield only needs to figure out how to end his codependency.

Nicolas Cage’s Dracula is so maniacally egotistical and self-absorbed that he never misses a chance to debase and humiliate his indentured servant Renfield to do his every bidding.

Bram Stoker’s legendary vampire has been adapted so many times in cinematic productions that one can’t possibly keep track. Who is the best Dracula? Would it be Gary Oldman, Frank Langella or Christopher Lee? They seem to be second fiddle to Bela Legosi.

Let’s get to the point that Nicolas Cage is playing the nefarious vampire for campy fun. Sort of like what Leslie Nielsen delivered in Mel Brooks’ “Dracula: Dead and Loving It.”

The most unlikely Dracula was probably George Hamilton’s spoof of the vampire in “Love at First Bite.” Not that he didn’t have some fun with the character, but how could a guy with an aversion to sunlight have a Malibu surfer’s tan?

In “Renfield,” Count Dracula wears enough pancake makeup that exposure to the sun would melt his face. And if ever there was someone outside of Great Britain with a need for a good dental plan, he’s the one.

Dracula is not alone in tormenting poor Renfield. The Lobo New Orleans crime family, run by matriarch Bellafrancesca (Shoreh Aghdashloo), is at war with Renfield when he chooses to align with New Orleans police officer Rebecca (Awkwafina).

Corruption runs so rampant in New Orleans that the Lobo family has free reign, partly as the result of a police force so crooked that Rebecca is apparently the only honest cop in town. But Teddy Lobo (Ben Schwartz) is so dim-witted that his enforcer role is a joke.

While Renfield ends up wearing pastel-colored sweaters, he does find a way to become assertive and bold, to say nothing of his superhuman strength when a supply of bugs to consume is at hand.

With a serious crush on Officer Rebecca, Renfield takes on the Lobo henchmen with a graphic vengeance that results in bloody mayhem of shattered heads and severed limbs.

Turn the clock back more than thirty years, and recall that Nicolas Cage played an immortal predator in the horror comedy “Vampire’s Kiss.” It only seemed natural for him to take on the role of the most prominent vampire of them all.

No slight is meant to Nicholas Hoult’s Renfield to note that having more of Nicolas Cage’s range of emotions from absurd arrogance to real menace would have enhanced the campiness of “Renfield.”

How come vampires always end up living in New Orleans? Maybe we owe that to Anne Rice’s prolific novels. Whatever the case, the Crescent City is an appropriate venue for the genre.


Supernatural crime thriller “The Rising” is the story of Neve Kelly (Clara Rugaard), who discovers that she is dead. Understandably, she’s scared and confused by this new non-existence, but moreover, when she realizes she’s been murdered, she’s furious.

Determined to find her killer and get justice, Neve takes advantage of her new supernatural abilities to go where the police cannot and investigate her own death.

In doing so, she uncovers deeply buried secrets and is forced to re-examine everything about her life and the people she cared about. “The Rising” is a story about love, justice, and the cost of pursuing the truth in a world that wants to keep it hidden.

The Australian surfer drama “Barons” is set in a time of sexual liberation, social disruption, protest, and war. The eight-part series captures a unique moment of upheaval and opportunity as a new surfing counterculture collides with the realities of enterprise.

Two best friends, inspired by their love for the Australian beach, create what will become iconic rival surf brands. Little do they know that their success will tear them and their worlds apart.

When their businesses go mainstream, the young rebels and their friends find themselves pulled deep into a world of corporate politics, jealousy, homophobia, and racial tension.

“Barons” finds that the selling of their surfer dreams to the world has created bitter, lasting rivalries.

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

Trumpet soloist and Lake County’s “trumpet master,” Gary Miller, will play a medley of songs in salute to Louis Armstrong during the Pre-Mother’s Day Concert on Sunday, May 7, 2023, in Lakeport, California. Photo courtesy of the Lake County Symphony.

LAKEPORT, Calif. — Fans of the Lake County Symphony should get ready for a magical day at the upcoming Mother’s Day performance by the Lake County Symphony Orchestra even though it will not take place on the actual Mother’s Day — as has been done since the concerts began.

Instead, due to a scheduling conflict with the Ukiah Symphony which is playing its concert on Mother’s Day this year, Lake County Symphony’s performance will be on May 7, one week earlier than usual.

Conductor and Music Director John Parkinson will lead the orchestra in another unforgettable program featuring well-known, popular music from hit movies and live theater that should bring back good memories and spark the imagination.

The “Pre-Mother’s Day Concert,” as it is being called, will feature selections from “The Wizard of Oz," “Chicago,” “Rocky Broadway” and “Mission Impossible.”

The concert begins with the “warm-up band,” the Lake County Community & Youth Orchestra, playing several pieces in keeping with the theme of the day.

The main concert opens with “Curtain Up!” — a medley of tunes that includes music from a variety of shows, including “Annie Get Your Gun” and “Funny Girl.”

Then we hear two pieces from the “Wizard of Oz,” followed by several selections from “Pan,” based on the story of “Peter Pan.”

Next, the orchestra plays selections from “Hook” and “The Empire Strikes Back Medley” before intermission.

Following the break, the audience will hear the “Mission: Impossible Theme” based on the original TV series, followed by “SATCHMO!” a tribute to Louis Armstrong.

Featured trumpet soloist and Lake County’s “trumpet master,” Gary Miller, will play a medley that includes “What a Wonderful World,” “When the Saints Come Marching In,” “Saint Louis Blues,” and “Hello Dolly.”

Miller has been with the Lake County Symphony since it began in 1978, making him one of its original musicians — along with Andi Skelton and Nick Biondo.

Miller, who also plays with the Ukiah Symphony and with the Symphony of the Redwoods, said, “The saying goes, ‘There are too many directors for the number of musicians,’ so audiences see many of us in all three symphonies.”

This talented and versatile musician is also a part of the Brasstastics Brass Quintet and The Funky Dozen dance band.

Parkinson then leads the symphony in a “Chicago” medley, followed by the Orchestral Suite from “The Star Wars Epic-Part II,” and music from “Pirates of the Caribbean.”

The final musical selection is from “Rocky Broadway,” the Broadway version of the 1976 movie, “Rocky,” featuring a medley of the most recognizable tunes from the show: “Gonna Fly Now,” “Fight from the Heart,” and “Eye of the Tiger.”

Tickets for the concert are $25 for general seating and $30 for premium; they are available for purchase on the Soper Reese website. LCSA members receive a $5 discount.

Please arrive 30 minutes early when buying tickets at the door for the regular 2 p.m. concert.

There is also an 11 a.m. dress rehearsal performance which costs $5 for adults and is free for those for those under 18. Please arrive extra early for this rehearsal concert to ensure a seat.

Debra Fredrickson writes for the Lake County Symphony Association.

Turner Classic Movies is part of the Warner Bros. media empire, which includes HBO, Discovery, TNT, Cinemax and several other brands.

No wonder this year’s TCM Classic Film Festival celebrated the 100th anniversary of Warner Bros. movie production.

This year was more than just about classic Warner Bros. films. Eddie Muller, while he hosts “Noir Alley” on TCM and writes extensively about the genre, introduced “The Killers,” a 1946 Universal Pictures production that marked the debut of Burt Lancaster.

Told in flashbacks after 10 minutes, “The Killers” had one of its major characters shot dead in the early going. Muller called the film the “Citizen Kane” of Noir, which may be a compliment to the source material of a 1927 short story written by Ernest Hemingway.

Edmond O’Brien’s investigator tries to make sense of the murder, uncovering in the process the involvement of Ava Gardner as the femme fatale, who according to Muller had already been in the movies but this film was her breakout role.

An interesting sidebar is that “The Killers” was remade in 1964 and told from the point of view of the hitmen who wanted to figure out why the victim offered no resistance.

The 1964 version had a fine cast of Lee Marvin and Angie Dickinson, along with Ronald Reagan in his last film role, this time as the villain in contrast to his usual good guy roles.

Back to the 1946 version, “The Killers” turned out to be a colossal hit, according to Muller, because of a great cast.

The expert on Film Noir opined that the most perfectly cast films of the genre are “The Maltese Falcon,” “The Asphalt Jungle,” and “The Killers.”

The joy of the TCM festival is to discover gems that may have been forgotten, except by hardcore cinephiles. One such example is 1941’s “Ball of Fire,” weirdly inspired, it seems, by “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”

Directed by Howard Hawks, “Ball of Fire” is one of the last screwball comedies released before the U.S. entered World War II. Nothing could be screwier than the odd notion of the “Snow White” character being a nightclub singer and a gangster’s moll (Barbara Stanwyck).

Stranger still, perhaps, is the role of Gary Cooper, a gunfighter in the old West, as a nerdy English professor and the Prince Charming to Stanwyck’s Sugarpuss O’Shea, who seeks refuge from police with Cooper’s Bertram Potts and a group of educators working on a new encyclopedia.

Not to discount the many gems that TCM brings to the festival, but 1942’s “Larceny, Inc.,” a caper film starring Edward G. Robinson spoofing the roles that made him a legend, is a comedic jewel.

The film was introduced by classic film distributor Michael Schlesinger, who observed that Robinson’s career was variations of his character from “Little Caesar,” and here he proves as adept at comedy as his usual heavy drama.

Robinson’s ‘Pressure’ Maxwell and Broderick Crawford’s Jug Martin, just released from prison, want to go straight but end up buying a luggage store next to a bank to tunnel into the vault. However, the store becomes a lucrative legitimate business.

Crawford is like you’ve never seen him before — a real lunkhead so clueless and dopey that he proves hilarious. At one point, when Maxwell wants to get a loan, Jug says he doesn’t “like the idea of going into a bank through the front door.”

If the plot of “Larceny, Inc.” seems familiar, Schlesinger said to look no further than to Woody Allen’s “Small Time Crooks,” which ripped off the concept of a botched bank job’s cover business becoming a spectacular success.

Film historian and archivist Randy Haberkamp hosted the “You Gotta Have a Gimmick: The Warner Bros. Trailers Show,” an inside look at how movie trailers are “windows into the time they are made.”

The purpose of trailers, as Haberkamp noted, are to “draw you into the theater.” As fascinating marketing tools, trailers are one of the very best reasons to see a movie in a theater.

A studio’s marketing team gets the blame when a film fails, and Haberkamp observed that the marketing department never gets the credit for success. Nobody ever said the movie business is fair.

The trailer for “Dodge City,” starring Errol Flynn, was unique in that, other than a couple of quick glimpses of scenes, it touted the rousing reception of its world premiere in Dodge City, Kansas, a city of 10,000 population that swelled to fifteen times in size.

The trailer for one of Humphrey Bogart’s most popular films was especially perceptive, with its tagline of “If you are looking for adventure, you will find it in ‘Casablanca.’”

The trailer also described Bogart’s cynical American café owner Rick Blaine as “the most dangerous man in the most dangerous city.” After all, the Vichy French and German Nazis had free rein in French Morocco.

While every year brings new treasures to the big screen, one constant of the TCM festival is the difficulty choosing from about eighty films in a four-day period.

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

Upcoming Calendar

Father's Day
06.18.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
06.19.2024 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
Free veterans dinner
06.22.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
06.22.2024 5:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Love of the Land Dinner
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

Mini Calendar



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