Tuesday, 06 December 2022

Arts & Life

Professor Steve Hellman. Courtesy photo.

LAKEPORT, Calif. — A creative writing class for older adults will be held from Jan. 19 through May 18 at the Lake Center campus of Mendocino College.

The classes will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesdays.

Writing in all genres is welcome.

With more than 45 years experience in writing and teaching, Professor Steve Hellman offers encouraging guidance to writers in their creative process.

He creates a safe and positive classroom environment with a focus on the collaborative process and the importance of trusting in your own forms of self-expression.

Participants will sample the work of published authors, share in an exchange of ideas, styles and techniques, and enjoy reviewing each other’s work.

Masking and social distancing are required in the classroom.

Register for English 503-0042 at the Lake Center, 2565 Parallel Dr, Lakeport, or online at www.mendocino.edu. The cost is only $12.

For more information, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or the Lake Center office, 707-263-4944.

“Tipsy” by Monte Brill. Photo by Middletown Art Center staff.

MIDDLETOWN, Calif. — The Middletown Art Center has opened its new exhibit, “MOVE!”

The exhibit features compelling work by new and familiar artists.

Politically, spiritually, physically and compositionally, the exhibit speaks to the theme of movement through diverse materials and content.

From Kelseyville artist Monte Brill’s whimsical kinetic fountain sculpture made out of wine bottles and glasses to Lower Lake artist Ruth Richard’s black and white “The Laws of Women,” the MOVE! exhibit invites you to stretch your edges and think.

"Water is a magical thing," Brill said of his whimsical kinetic sculpture “Tipsy,” an elegant, automated decanter that is somewhat of a riddle as to how it works.

The design is inspired by the physics of shishi odoshi (deer scarer) — ancient Japanese devices made to frighten away animals that pose a threat to agriculture. Using materials found in modern wineries, two wine bottles perpetually refill and pour into revolving wheels of wineglasses below. The piece is mesmerizing in its motion and in the resulting sounds of moving water.

Richards created “The Laws Women” to bring awareness to the plight of the Zapatistas who declared war against the Mexican government in 1994.

Her digital drawings depict the Women's Revolutionary Law, a set of 10 laws that grant rights to women regarding marriage, children, work, health, education, and political and military participation while protecting them from violence.

Women fought alongside men in the Zapatista National Liberation Army in response to over 500 years of oppression, poverty and exploitation. The series is powerful, and always relevant.

MOVE! will be on view through March 28.

The MAC Gallery is open Thursday through Monday, 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., or by appointment by calling 707-809-8118.

MAC continues to innovate and adapt to offer arts and cultural events to the community at MAC and virtually, during this challenging time.

Find out more about programs, opportunities and ways to get involved, support and celebrate the MAC’s efforts to weave the arts and culture into the fabric of life in Lake County ​at www.​middletownartcenter.org.​


“The Laws of Women #9” by Ruth Richards.

Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

Some­times a poem achieves its beau­ty by a cer­tain fix­a­tion on a small detail that is not bur­dened with the need to be ​“impor­tant.”

Here, in ​“Oolong,” Adri­enne Su cre­ates her own tea rit­u­al, a med­i­ta­tive moment to reflect on the ordi­nary, the quo­tid­i­an.

Tea and the drink­ing of tea, treat­ed to such care­ful study, become a way to think of life as it moves from strong to weak and back again.

Oolong
By Adrienne Su

From strong to weak, a single cup
can carry me from waking up
to the mild hush of the bedtime snack.
Fresh hot water brings it back
from depletion, or threat of such.

What ancient genius gained so much
from roasting pieces of a shrub?
I watch it change, as daylight flags,
from strong to weak,

ending with the faded touch
of flavor that was once robust.
faintness helps the mind relax,
but part of me remains perplexed
that every day unfurls as it must,
from strong to weak.


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 ©2021 by Adrienne Su, “Oolong” from Peach State, (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2021). 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.

Albert Goldbarth’s imagination has the unique penchant for a certain absurdist insistence on the delight we can derive from strangeness.

The poet hears his wife singing and thinks of a horse’s skull. This seems like a prelude to intimations of mortality (the poem’s title is, after all, “Tough Day: Closure”), but then, what happens is not quite humor, but dogged joy, “as if the brain/ is determined to sing and fly.”

And the image that stays with me is this one, a bird rising out of a horse’s skull.

Tough Day: Closure
By Albert Goldbarth

Upstairs, in the bath, my wife
is humming some made-up tune
in which the mood of a zoned-out
happiness willfully prevails.

Why do I suddenly think of the horse skull
that I saw last year in the countryside?

Because a bird rose out of it,

as if the brain
is determined to sing and fly,
the brain is determined to sing and fly
no matter what.


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 ©2021 by Albert Goldbrath, “Tough Day: Closure” from Other Worlds, (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2021). 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.



‘NIGHTMARE ALLEY’ RATED R

The definition of a “geek” is thought to apply to one obsessed with digital technology or a socially inept person.

An older version of the term, which plays a part in “Nightmare Alley,” means a carnival or circus performer whose show consists of bizarre or grotesque acts.

The original slang term for geek has a central conceit in William Lindsey Gresham’s 1946 novel “Nightmare Alley,” which was adapted for a film starting Tyrone Power a year later, and now in the hands of director Guillermo del Toro the new version hews to the basic themes of Gresham’s work.

As a film noir and psychological thriller, “Nightmare Alley” is sufficiently disturbing and laden with the grim sense of hopelessness and despair for the Great Depression-era backwater touring carnivals.

Stumbling into the world of carnies and hucksters is Stan Carlisle (Bradley Cooper), a drifter running from his own nightmares who impresses carnival barker Clem Hoatley (William Dafoe) to land a position assisting mentalists.

While fascinated by the geek’s sad misfortune of being an alcoholic who bites the heads off chickens as a sideshow attraction, Stan is tutored by Zeena (Toni Collette) in the art of being a bogus psychic.

Adapting well to the carny lifestyle, Stan woos the mild-mannered, pretty Molly (Rooney Mara), whose talent as the “electric girl” is to dazzle audiences with an ability to withstand a powerful current.

Driven by ambition to strike out on his own, Stan leaves with Molly to take his psychic act to big city nightclub acts where the couple work in tandem to astonish sophisticated audiences.

What would film noir be without a femme fatale? That role certainly does not go to the good-hearted Molly. It falls to the sleek, elegant psychiatrist Dr. Lilith Ritter (Cate Blanchett), who first challenges Stan’s ersatz shtick before being drawn to his charms.

Working with inside knowledge of Lilith’s patients, Stan and the doctor team up to fleece wealthy tycoons like Ezra Grindle (Richard Jenkins) who are gullible victims for sham spiritualism.

Not unexpectedly, with Stan’s broken moral compass, things are bound to go horribly wrong. After all, this is film noir and there will be a reckoning that is ugly.

“Nightmare Alley” features an impressive cast, but it’s definitely a movie outside the mainstream with potentially limited commercial appeal. As an adult-skewing drama, it might get more traction if it ends up on a streaming service.

SUSPENSE MOVIES ON LIFETIME

Following a usually hectic holiday schedule, January is a slow month for new theatrical releases, but the Lifetime cable channel picks up the slack with new suspense-filled original movies.

Marking his directorial debut, Boris Kodjoe directs real-life wife Nicole Ari Parker in the home invasion thriller “Safe Room” that centers on Parker’s recently widowed Lila Jackson and her 14-year-old autistic son Ian (Nik Sanchez).

Since the death of her husband, Lila is grateful for their kind gestures of kind neighbor Neil (Boris Kodjoe). After Ian accidentally witnesses a break-in at the house across the street and records a horrific murder, the Jackson family is in peril.

Lila becomes embroiled in a deadly struggle to protect her son from intruders Dominic (Mackenzie Astin) and Rocco (Drea De Matteo), who will stop at nothing to retrieve the video of the crime.

Hiding and trapped in a makeshift panic room created by her late husband, Lila and Ian must use all of their strength and intelligence to outsmart the intruders to save themselves.

Following a week later, the chills and thrills continue in “Vanished: Searching For My Sister” with the story of a sister who poses as her missing twin, starring Tatyana Ali playing both twins.

Twins Jada and Kayla could not be more opposite. Jada being the mild-mannered sister with an office job, and Kayla the wild child recently divorced from her husband Warren (Justin Bruening).

Kayla asks Jada to watch her daughter while she sets up her new apartment. But after a few days with no word from Kayla, Jada begins to worry and reports her sister missing.

With no leads and the police investigation at a standstill, Jada takes matters into her own hands. She disguises herself as her sister and gets pulled into a world of drugs and deceit in order to learn the shocking truth about what really happened to Kayla.

Early February brings the original thriller “Single Black Female” starring Raven Goodwin as Monica, who is reeling from the death of her beloved father and a difficult breakup.

Monica is ready to move forward with her life as she tries to land the new hosting job for an afternoon talk show. When she hires a new assistant, Simone (Amber Riley), the two quickly become close friends as Simone moves in next door.

Becoming completely immersed in Monica’s life, Simone harbors a dark secret and as time goes on cracks in her sweet exterior begin to appear.

Monica decides to sever ties once and for all with Simone, but Simone has other plans and is determined to take over Monica’s life for good.

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





‘BEING THE RICARDOS’ RATED R

Released theatrically, “Being the Ricardos” may now also be enjoyed from home on Amazon Prime Video. Watching this on television is fitting since this is the story of the production for the popular “I Love Lucy” series.

The Ricardos, of course, refer to the stars of the show, Lucille Ball (Nicole Kidman) and Desi Arnaz (Javier Bardem), real-life married couple in the parts of Lucy and Ricky Ricardo, respectively the quintessential dizzy redhead and the charismatic Cuban bandleader.

Written and directed by Aaron Sorkin as a behind-the-scenes drama, “Being the Ricardos” is structured to capture a single week of production from the Monday table read through the Friday live audience taping, interspersed with flashbacks of the couple’s fascinating history.

During the course of a week during a second season in 1952, Sorkin has crammed enough crises into the story that would under normal circumstances sink the careers and professional reputations of all parties involved.

As if the short window of producing one episode is not filled with enough predicaments, flashbacks and leaps into the future provide glimpses of the turbulent relationship of Lucy and Desi, from a whirlwind courtship to the burning ambition that made them leading television innovators.

Muckraking gossip columnist Walter Winchell drops a bombshell charge that Lucy’s past is linked to membership in the Communist party, while a tabloid spreads rumors of Desi’s alleged infidelity.

Meanwhile, Lucy reveals that she’s pregnant and Desi wants to incorporate her pending maternity into a storyline, but executives of Philip Morris, the show’s sponsor, object strenuously to changing the show’s formula.

Nevertheless, plenty of spectacle consumes the actual show, with J.K. Simmons and Nina Arianda bringing humor and tension to the set as actors William Frawley and Vivian Vance in the roles of Fred and Ethel Metz, the comic foils as Lucy and Desi’s neighbors.

The behind the camera action in the writers’ room adds another enticing dimension to the “I Love Lucy” saga. Tony Hale shines as producer Jess Oppenheimer, and the writing team of Madelyn Pugh (Alia Shawkat) and Bob Carroll Jr. (Jake Lacy) have standout moments of competitive banter.

One drawback to “Being the Ricardos” might be how Sorkin unpacks the storyline with an overabundance of subplots, which in reality did not converge during the same week. Liberties have been taken with the chronology of events, as Sorkin shuffled the deck to make a better story.

To build the film’s narrative, Sorkin places obstacles in front of his characters with the end goal of informing and entertaining. As a result, there’s a case to be made here that Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz get their due as Hollywood pioneers in the Golden Age of television.



‘THE KING’S MAN’ RATED R

As is the case with most sequels in a franchise, the question is whether the latest installment is unnecessary or inevitably forgettable or just maybe a combination of both.

Reflecting upon the latest James Bond film “No Time to Die,” I now ponder the notion that the beloved spy series enjoyed for so many decades has lost its impetus. At least, 007 had a good run, but the same may not prove true for the “Kingsman” franchise.

Set at the turn of the last century leading up to World War I, “The King’s Man” can’t decide what kind of movie it wants to be. Is it a war drama or espionage tale? Does it expose Britain’s brutal colonialism? How does pacifism coincide with its violent action?

However, “The King’s Man” is a prequel to “Kingsman: The Secret Service” and the origin story for the autonomous intelligence agency designed to be cut loose from the bureaucracy of a government-run spy organization.

The leading character of the Kingsman organization, operating stylishly out of the eponymously-named gentleman’s tailor shop on London’s Savile Row, is Ralph Fiennes’ aristocratic Orlando, the Duke of Oxford.

For one running an elite espionage outfit, that the Duke of Oxford is so committed to pacifism in the face of the looming World War I seems incomprehensible without the knowledge of his past experiences and concern to keep his son Conrad (Harris Dickinson) from joining the Army.

As a trusted ally to King George (Tom Hollander, who also plays Czar Nicholas and Kaiser Wilhelm), Oxford comes to realize that global conflict is inescapable and hence a clandestine group must be formed with the help of Shola (Djimon Hounsou) and Polly (Gemma Arterton).

Conrad defies his father’s wish and enlists with a desire to be sent to the front lines, ending up in fierce trench warfare that is as bleak and grim as anything seen in war movies such as “Saving Private Ryan” and more on point in “1917.”

For his part, the Duke of Oxford rises to the occasion for a mountaintop showdown with a Bond-like villain, parachuting from a plane and jostling with a mountain goat. “The Kingsman” allows for the erudite, polished Duke of Oxford to be a different yet rousing kind of hero.

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

Upcoming Calendar

6Dec
12.06.2022 9:00 am - 12:00 pm
Board of Supervisors
6Dec
12.06.2022 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Rotary Club of Clear Lake
6Dec
12.06.2022 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Lakeport City Council
8Dec
12.08.2022 7:30 am - 8:30 am
Rotary Club of Middletown
8Dec
12.08.2022 9:30 am - 2:15 pm
Bucket Brigade Blood Drive Challenge
8Dec
12.08.2022 10:00 am - 3:00 pm
Adult Literacy Program in-person tutor training
8Dec
12.08.2022 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Middletown Area Town Hall
9Dec
12.09.2022 4:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Hometown Christmas in Lower Lake
10Dec
12.10.2022 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
10Dec
12.10.2022 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Ladies of the Lake Quilt Guild

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