Tuesday, 27 September 2022

Arts & Life

Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

Nowhere in her poem, “Self-Portrait with Impending War,” does Lauren K. Alleyne mention a war, but the rumors of war and the disquiet of the world seem to haunt this “self-portrait” in which the self extends far beyond Alleyne’s personalized self and attempts to achieve a connection to all who must consider the complications of a home that is at once embracing and dangerous.

In the end, Alleyne’s poem is a jeremiad—a warning of what can be lost to the wars that are always impending.

Self Portrait with Impending War
By Lauren K. Alleyne

Home is the hodgepodge house,
the vacant lot beside it, the ailing
mango tree, the stingy coconut trees
with nobody left to climb them anyway.
Perhaps, you think, home could be this
continent with its confused seasons,
the roads that roll out in front of you,
limitless as the night sky. Home be this
small silence you curl into anywhere you go,
the one hovering in your chest beating
its fleshy time. This planet you scar
with too many clothes and plastic bags: home.
And where to run but everywhere?
What to weep for, but what is going,
somehow, to be gone?

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 ©2022 by Lauren K. Alleyne, “Self Portrait with Impending War” from Porter House Review. Poem reprinted by permission of the author and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2022 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.

LAKEPORT, Calif. — The city of Lakeport is seeking proposals for mid-range to large-scale sculptural and/or innovative, mixed or multimedia installations to be showcased in the new lakefront park development in downtown Lakeport at 800 and 810 N. Main St.

Awards to successful applicants will range from $5,000 to $20,000, depending on the scale and budget of the proposed work, which includes materials, artist’s labor, installation needs and any necessary travel expenses. Proposals with interactive components are encouraged.

Lake County artists and Black, Indigenous and people of color, or BIPOC, are strongly urged to submit proposals; there are no geographic restrictions for applications.

All proposals must be submitted no later than 4 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 19.

Proposed art works must be made of materials that can endure the outdoors and extreme weather in a public setting.

All object-based sculptures must be securely mounted to the ground or a plinth base at the designated site; all work must be safe for pedestrian traffic.

The call for artists may be viewed on the city’s website, www.cityoflakeport.com/bid_opportunities.php.

The request for proposal includes specific application requirements and a map of the lakefront park with designated spaces for art.

In January 2020, the city of Lakeport was awarded a competitive grant from the California Department of Parks and Recreation funded by Proposition 68, the California Drought, Water, Parks, Climate, Coastal Protection and Outdoor Access for All Act of 2018. After two years of design, the project is ready for construction.

The new park consists of approximately 6.9 acres and will include, in addition to the public art, a basketball court, splash pad, skate park, concession building with restrooms, shade structures, picnic areas, fitness equipment, a pavilion, lighting, irrigation, and landscaping.

Estimated completion date is spring 2023.

For more information, contact Community Development Director Jenni Byers at 707-263-5615, Extension. 201, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



‘EMILY THE CRIMINAL’ RATED R

It is often said that one should write about what they know, or at least a variation of that construct. For director and screenwriter John Patton Ford, he turned a personal story into a premise for “Emily the Criminal.”

On the surface, “Emily the Criminal” is about a woman who becomes a criminal to pay her student loans. While Ford is neither a criminal nor a woman, he graduated from school with ninety-thousand dollars of debt.

The housing crisis was still doing damage, and Ford ended up delivering food and struggling to pay the interest each month. Not the principal, just the interest.

Wanting to become a filmmaker appeared to be a daunting task, and personal experience sparked the idea of making a movie about a millennial who hits the breaking point and decides to make her own rules.

Aubrey Plaza’s Emily carries not only the burden of student debt but a record of drunk driving and felony assault. Her past indiscretions prove to be a major impediment in job interviews to advancing a career.

The only job open to her is being an independent contractor delivering food to office buildings. Not exactly a reliable position with benefits and job security.

Meanwhile, she remains pals with a fellow student from art school, who is now working at a prestigious ad agency. Emily and her friend Liz (Megalyn Echikunwoke) seem to occupy two different planets.

After doing a favor for a coworker, Emily gets introduced to the shady underworld of “dummy shopper” where she can make $200 in an hour buying goods with a stolen credit card and fake ID.

Desperate for income, Emily shows up at a warehouse where the seemingly empathetic middleman Youcef (Theo Rossi) plays it straight about the risks and rewards of the criminal enterprise.

Getting a taste for the quick buck, Emily volunteers for a bigger payday. Of course, the greater the reward, the even more dangerous risk, such as conning an auto dealer with a fraudulent purchase of a luxury vehicle.

As trust between Emily and Youcef grows, a natural attraction evolves into something more personal. Though Youcef comes across as a nice guy, he’s working with some bad people like his cousin Khalil (Jonathan Avigdori), and no good can come of it.

While Emily becomes even bolder in the fraud game, she’s not quite given up on her desire to put her artistic skills to use for a white-collar job, even if her criminal past proves to be an albatross.

A telling scene is when she finally gets an interview at Liz’s company, meeting with smug agency head Alice (Gina Gershon), who offers an unpaid six-month internship as if it were the golden ticket.

To say the least, the insult of toiling for no compensation leads to the inevitable conclusion that this is a turning point for Emily realizing she may be best suited to a life of crime.

Now that she’s drawn even closer to Youcef, will Emily get more reckless? The stakes get higher, and both of them could be placed in greater jeopardy when things get sideways with Khalil and his cohorts.

“Emily the Criminal” is an intense, gripping crime thriller, and Aubrey Plaza’s fearless Emily is something to behold. Her character is not admirable but the performance is ferocious and compelling.



‘A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN’ ON AMAZON PRIME

Some familiar with the beloved 1992 film “A League of Their Own” may be taken aback by the modern approach to a story of women in baseball substituting for the men who have gone off to fight during World War II.

One of the most jarring aspects of Amazon Prime’s eight-episode series (which this reviewer has not devoured in its entirety) is contemporary jargon that is not in tune with the era.

This serialized “A League of Their Own” is also less invested in baseball than in the drama that seems driven by an agenda revealing the challenges of women competing in what was then an exclusively male sport.

Loosely based on the Geena Davis character, Abbi Jacobson’s married Carson Shaw, whose husband is in the Army, leaves her Idaho small town to the big city of Chicago for a tryout with the Rockford Peaches.

As catcher and eventually the interim coach, Carson deals with guilt as she finds herself attracted to another star player, wisecracking Greta Gill (D’Arcy Carden).

A parallel story develops with Maxine Chapman (Chante Adams), a talented Black pitcher, who is unable to overcome the overt racism that keeps her from joining the Peaches, a team with a Mexican pitcher (Roberta Colindrez) passed off as the Spanish Striker.

Carson is not the only person wrestling with guilt and same-sex attraction. Maxine’s closeted desire would surely cause a rift in her tightknit circle of family and friends.

The most compelling drama, or at least as it appears half-way through the series, is with Maxine’s family, where strong-willed matriarch Toni (Saidah Arrika Ekulona) is in a league of her own.

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




‘BEAST’ RATED R

Animals gone wild is nothing new in the movies. Stephen King’s “Cujo” involved a rabid St. Bernard conducting a reign of terror on a small American town, and the same could be said of the shark in “Jaws.”

The aptly-titled “Beast” is a suspenseful action tale about a father and his two teenage daughters who find themselves hunted by a massive rogue lion intent on proving that the savannah has but one apex predator.

Idris Elba’s Dr. Nate Samuels, a recently widowed husband returns to South Africa, where he first met his wife, on a trip with his daughters to honor the memory of their mother’s heritage.

The trip is meant to heal the father’s rift with his offspring who resent the fact that the parents had been separated while the mother was dying of cancer and the good doctor was unable to save her.

Nate obviously loves his daughters with all his heart, but the girls, 18-year-old Mare (Iyana Halley) and 13-year-old Norah (Leah Jeffries), must learn to trust him again after so much disappointment.

Landing by small plane in the middle of nowhere, the family is met by old friend Martin Battles (Sharlto Copley), manager of a game reserve and wildlife biologist, as well as a fierce foe of poachers who wantonly kill protected animals for financial gain.

With Martin as a guide, Nate and his daughters venture into the savannah, and their first encounter is with a pride of lions who are almost domesticated as they have been protected by Martin’s humane crew.

The beast in question, whose own pride of lions has been wiped out by vicious poachers, has decided to declare war on all humans regardless of their intentions.

The beast’s killing instinct is soon revealed when Martin, Nate and the girls discover to their horror that the habitants of a remote desert village have been wiped out.

Shortly thereafter, they become the prey of the monstrous lion, finding themselves stranded in Martin’s jeep after it takes a beating from the animal’s overpowering desire for revenge against mankind.

Just like in most horror films, poor decisions are often made by the characters that make you want to yell about their stupidity. Such is the case when one of the girls ignores the father’s entreaty to not leave the vehicle.

If dumb choices are avoided, then perhaps we’d be missing out on some of the excitements derived from the unimaginable dangers posed by an alpha lion hell-bent on killing humans.

A good reason as any to see the pulse-pounding thriller “Beast” is that it stars superbly talented, versatile British actor Idris Elba, who should be the next James Bond even though he has apparently stated no interest in the role.

Running at a brisk 93-minutes, “Beast” has many moments of intensity and great thrills which makes for nice escapist fare, even if some of the scares can be seen coming from a mile away.

Even if predictable, this B-movie thriller proves to be effective.

THE MAHOGANY BRAND ARRIVES ON HALLMARK CHANNEL

The Hallmark brand is not just the popular and widely recognized line of greeting cards. Through Crown Media, the Hallmark Channel is family-oriented cable programming with a mix of series and original made-for-TV movies.

During an in-person event for this summer’s press tour, Hallmark launched what Wonya Lucas, President and CEO of Hallmark Media, called “a new programming initiative rooted in the spirit and sensibility of the iconic Hallmark Card line.”

That distinctive card line is the Hallmark Mahogany brand, consisting of greeting cards that have honored and celebrated Black culture with empowering themes for more than three decades.

The initiation of Mahogany programming in late August brings original movie “Unthinkably Good Things” to Hallmark’s Movies & Mysteries, a seminal moment in the evolution of Hallmark content with authentic stories through the unique lens of Black women.

At a crossroads in her career and love life, Karen Pittman’s Allison is in need of the love and support of her two friends Melina (Joyful Drake) and Reesa (Erica Ash) in “Unthinkably Good Things.”

When the friends visit Allison in Tuscany, the reunion causes each woman to reexamine the state of her own life and relationships. While they have different personalities and perspectives, they know each other’s truths and help to make life-changing decisions.

Between the good wine, delicious food, a healthy serving of romance, set against the beautiful backdrop of Tuscany, the three women relish the importance of friendship and inspire each other to take the leap to pursue the life and loves they have always wanted.

Watching “Unthinkably Good Things” may do more than pull at one’s heartstrings. The beauty of the Italian countryside is the siren call that will have you looking at travel guides.

During the press conference, Karen Pittman said being in this movie was about the countryside and “the pastoral sense of wine and culture, and I thought it really added a lot to the story, right?” Yes, she’s exactly correct.

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

Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

“Mend” is a poem of great intimacy. L. Renee, remembers her mother as the mender of garments, and as someone who had a life of rich experiences before the poet was born.

This moment of separation described in this poem is a testing and revelatory rite of passage for mother and daughter.

Her mother’s gift of precise hand-sewing is also a gift that mends whatever may seek to separate mother and daughter.

Mend
By L. Renee

My Mama had the gift of hand sewing—one perfect stitch
after another perfect stitch, eyeballing the precise length

of thread needed to repair what had ripped a gaping
hole, unmaking the whole swath of cotton-polyester fabric

she draped across her delicate boney shoulders before
a night out with my father—painting the town red

she said of those early dates when he handed her his fat
quarters hoping they would be enough to make something

beautiful like the outfits she sewed: plaid culottes with matching
vests, paisley dresses, fringed halters—she tells me this while

I watch the needle bully a ruby rivulet from her thumb, sullying
the myth of cotton without the blood, when she tries to mend

my middle-school uniform skirt, a navy pleat I never noticed
had been stretched into splitting—

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 ©2022 by L. Renée, “Mend” from Poetry Northwest. Poem reprinted by permission of the author and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2022 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.

War, impending war and exile forced by war, are increasing preoccupations in the work of Ladan Osman — not so much the wars, but the damage that they do to everyday people who are trying to live in this world.

In “Sun to God”, these walking children and their parents, these laughing children and their parents, will eventually start to run, and will eventually stop laughing. It is a vividly captured accounting of the wars that continue to be waged around us.

Sun to God
By Ladan Osman

The children walked.
Then they began to run.
Why are we running, one asked?
No one knew. They ran faster.
They began laughing.
Why are we laughing?
Not one knew. They laughed more.
It was the eve of war but they didn’t know.
The children walked.
The children’s parents walked.
The parents’ parents walked.
Their shadows spilled ahead.
Their shadows lagged behind.
Then, they began to run.
No one was laughing.


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 ©2022 by Ladan Osman, “Sun to God” from The Rumpus, April 26, 2022. Poem reprinted by permission of the author and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2022 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

27Sep
09.27.2022 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Clearlake Planning Commission 
28Sep
09.28.2022 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Levee and flood risk workshop
29Sep
09.29.2022 7:30 am - 8:30 am
Rotary Club of Middletown
29Sep
09.29.2022 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Local Hazard Mitigation Plan update meeting
1Oct
10.01.2022 7:00 am - 11:00 am
Sponsoring Survivorship annual walk and run
1Oct
10.01.2022 8:00 am - 2:00 pm
Konocti Challenge
1Oct
1Oct
10.01.2022 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
1Oct
10.01.2022 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
20th annual Falling Leaves Quilt Show

Mini Calendar

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