Friday, 03 February 2023

Arts & Life

Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

Nan­cy Keat­ing has clear­ly rec­og­nized a fun­da­men­tal human val­ue of poet­ry, the capac­i­ty for art to help us cope with the mem­o­ries of our guilt-induc­ing acts.

In her poem ​“The Snowy Egret” the con­fes­sion of a man in a mag­a­zine killing a bird in his youth, serves as a source of empath­ic release for the poet from her own unspo­ken regret.

For­get­ting, she says, is not real­is­tic. This, as it hap­pens, is a handy truth for poets whose cur­ren­cy is memory.

The Snowy Egret
By Nan­cy Keat­ing

Give me another word for regret,
something more like forget
only better, more effective,

since in fact we really don’t forget
the bad things we did
or caused. I read in a letter

to The Sun Magazine where a man
will always remember the egret
lying, a silent heap of cirrus clouds,

at his 12-year-old feet. It was his first
and last time shooting a gun.
His confession stabbed me

into a memory of unremembered shame
and the ache in my stomach telling me
I had joined humanity.

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 Nancy Keating, “The Snowy Egret” from White Chick (Elixir 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.

Jude Darrin. Courtesy photo.

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. — Jude Darrin is once again a featured vocalist in the LCSA Christmas Concert.

The concert premieres at 2 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 24, on the Soper Reese Theatre YouTube Channel. More information is available here.

The Nashville native spent her early years in an orphanage in nearby Spring Hill, where she entertained guests singing with her three older sisters. She got her first taste of show-business performing on a Nashville radio station WSM at age 10.

Darrin holds a PhD in humanities and was a lecturer for the California State University system. Helping to raise awareness and understanding through her university lecture series was very rewarding work; however, her main passion is singing.

Darrin is a past member of the San Jose Civic Light Opera/American Musical Theatre and was named best supporting actress for her role as “Cleo” in the musical, “The Most Happy Fella.”During this same time, she served up the standards as the lead singer for the Bay Area's Lockheed Big Band.

Darrin fronted her own band for over three decades. With this band she entertained in high-end venues ranging from the Broken Spoke in Austin, Texas, the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, to Los Angeles' Palomino Club. For nine years, she was the featured vocalist on a weekly CBS-affiliate country music television show. She has also done vocal work for major studios in Nashville, Austin, and Los Angeles.

Darrin has performed around the world at events from outdoor festivals to some of the finest concert halls, and aboard cruise ships to such places as Alaska, Mexico, and Hawaii.

She has also sung the national anthem for numerous professional ball clubs including the SF Giants, Atlanta Braves, Houston Astros, Sacramento's Kings, Knights and Monarchs, the Los Angeles Clippers and Sparks, and the Seattle Mariners.

Since relocating from Paradise to Lakeport seven years ago, Darrin and her family — grandson Slade and his mother, Camm — are enjoying donating their time as a musical trio performing a wide variety of music for the farmers’ markets in Lakeport, Finley and Middletown.

Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

Shara McCallum never uses the word “haunt,” but the poem is about the haunting of those who have gone before.

Yet the haunting is purposeful. It is shot through with the poet’s sense that she owes the dead some accountability, and the dead seem to agree.

As necessary as it is to read “No Ruined Stone” as a broad meditation on the legacy of a troubled history (the poem, “No Ruined Stone” is the title poem of her new collection that, among other things, explores the implications of transatlantic slavery), at its emotional core, is a tender accounting of loss and memory.

This grandmother, one senses, is also haunting by inhabiting everything the poet sees around her.

This fierce presence is the unusual but quite familiar theme of her elegy.

No Ruined Stone
By Shara McCallum
May 2018: for my grandmother

When the dead return
they will come to you in dream
and in waking, will be the bird
knocking, knocking against glass, seeking
a way in, will masquerade
as the wind, its voice made audible
by the tongues of leaves, greedily
lapping, as the waves’ self-made fugue
is a turning and returning, the dead
will not then nor ever again
desert you, their unrest
will be the coat cloaking you,
the farther you journey
from them the more
distance will maw in you,
time and place gulching
when the dead return and demand
accounting, wanting
everything you have to give and nothing
will quench or unhunger them
as they take all you make as offering.
Then tell you to begin again.

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 Shara McCallum, “No Ruined Stone” from No Ruined Stone (Alice James Books, 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.


Sixty years ago, the 1957 Broadway musical “West Side Story” was adapted to the big screen starring Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer in the roles of star-crossed lovers Maria and Tony as a modern-day Romeo and Juliet couple.

Fast forward six decades and director Steven Spielberg brings his unique talent for a re-imagining of the beloved musical that delights with a brilliant adaptation of the work of legends Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim, the respective creators of the music and lyrics.

Not only are the memorable songs so enticing and seductive, the choreographed scenes of the rival Jets and Sharks gangs prowling the rough streets of New York City’s Upper West Side and shifting randomly into electric dance moves are something to behold.

Set in 1957 when urban renewal was replacing the neighborhood tenements to make way for the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and other developments, the streets are a battleground for the Jets, a white gang, and their Puerto Rican rivals known as the Sharks.

The putative leader of the Jets is rather bland Tony (Ansel Elgort), who comes across more like an Ivy League student than hardened street tough even though he served a prison term for nearly killing an immigrant.

The Sharks are under the command of Bernardo (David Alvarez), whose younger sister Maria (Rachel Zegler) becomes romantically linked with Tony in the Shakespearean-inspired young love that fuels a violent showdown of the opposing gangs.

While Tony is trying to go straight by working at Doc’s Drugstore, which is now run by widow Valentina (Rita Moreno), the Jets find the volatile Riff (Mike Faist) more than willing to rumble for the sake of claiming turf that will soon be gentrified.

Speaking of Rita Moreno, she’s a real treasure in this film, bridging the divide between the gangs as well as being an unrelated link to the past, considering she played the role of Bernardo’s girlfriend Anita in the original.

The tragedy of the love story is obvious to anyone familiar with the Shakespearean source material. What works well here is a romantic fairy tale told with superb passion and intensity.

Remember that the original “West Side Story” won 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and that alone is a reason to marvel at Spielberg’s daring to take on the challenge of a remake, and yet the result is fits of apparent messaging that may diminish widespread appeal.

In a world where so many films are rebooted to dwindling acclaim, was a remake of the iconic “West Side Story” essential? Probably not, because the original remains so fantastic but at least the radiant choreography and music of this updated version provide great pleasure.


Though he may not be a household name, Scott Adkins is making his mark as an action star in B-movies and that’s a good thing. After all, guys like Steven Seagal and Chuck Norris are now too old, and Charles “Death Wish” Bronson is no longer with us.

With martial arts skills similar to those of more famous B-grade action stars, Adkins has had supporting roles in big pictures like “The Bourne Ultimatum” and “Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning.” Soon he’ll be seen in the next “John Wick” sequel.

Punching above his weight to get to the next level of action stardom, Adkins portrays Navy SEAL Lt. Blake Harris as a fearless warrior reduced to a one-man army when faced with holding the line against cutthroat insurgents.

An emergency situation compels Harris to lead an elite squad of fellow SEALs and junior CIA analyst Zoe Anderson (Ashley Greene Khoury) to retrieve a detainee from a CIA black site on a remote island that resembles the Guantánamo Bay detention facility.

The mission appears simple enough. Disembark from the chopper and retrieve suspected terrorist mastermind Amin Mansur (Waleed Elgadi) for interrogation about the location of a dirty bomb set to destroy the three branches of government in Washington, D.C.

Yet, we know things won’t go smoothly. First problem is the base’s chief officer Jack Yorke (Ryan Phillippe) who refuses to release the detainee based solely on the intel provided by Anderson.

Before the internal squabbling subsides, a band of ruthless mercenaries led by particularly nasty and brutal Charef (Jess Liaudin), who looks like a UFC cage fighter, invades the island determined to kill Mansur and snuff out any chance he’ll divulge terrorist secrets.

There’s no way that Adkins would take a role where he would not shoot, stab, kick and punch his way to eliminating the hordes of villains armed with AK-47s and an endless supply of ammo.

Filmed as a nonstop take, “One Shot” fashions a relentless battle with mercenaries where the tension continues to mount as Harris and the soldiers on the base face increasingly difficult odds for survival.

The perceptive B-movie aficionado who appreciates that Scott Adkins, who also appeared in “The Expendables 2,” is hellbent on delivering the goods will not be disappointed by the taut action of “One Shot.”

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

This story has been updated with new dates for the concert’s streaming and availability.

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. — Lake County Symphony Association is still going strong — despite the challenges of COVID-19 — and will present its Christmas Concert as a virtual event, like their recent Fall Concert.

This is somewhat disappointing, since audience participation — the popular “singalong” component — will not be possible in this format. But almost everything else that people enjoyed at the live Christmas Concert is included in this version that was filmed at the Soper Reese Theatre.

John Parkinson conducts the Lake County Symphony Chamber Orchestra (complete with rhythm section, guitar, Irish penny whistle and Bodhran drum) in orchestral holiday favorites: “Sleigh Ride,” “Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” “Fum Fum Fum,” “Highland Holiday,” “Christmas Boogie” and more.

Jude Darrin is the featured soloist vocalist once again and will be singing custom arranged selections. The concert premieres at 2 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 24, on the Soper Reese Theatre YouTube Channel.

Tickets may be purchased on the Soper Reese website: Simply purchase a “Ticket Reservation” and the actual link to the premier will be emailed to you on Dec. 23 after the concert is uploaded.

You may also purchase a Link to view the celebration “On Demand” and enjoy viewing it anytime between Dec. 25 and Jan. 2.

On Jan. 3 the celebration will be available for free viewing on both the Soper Reese YouTube Channel called: “Soper Reese YouTube” and the Lake County Symphony YouTube Channel called: “LC Symphony Musicians.”

For those who missed the LCSA virtual Fall Concert, headlined by Camm Linden playing Haydn’s Piano Concerto, head on over to LC Symphony Musicians on YouTube to view for free.

The British monarchy fascinates many and that is perhaps explained by two things. First, there is a subscription video on demand service dedicated to all things Royal, and it is called True Royalty TV.

Second, the royal-centric service is ringing in the holiday season with “A Very Royal Christmas: Sandringham Secrets,” which will give viewers a look at how the Royal Family celebrates Christmas Day at the Queen’s country estate.

Will Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, be a part of the holiday celebration? If one bothers to read tabloid stories about the couple’s rift with the Royal Family, the invitation could be lost in the mail.

Meanwhile, Mariah Carey, who has not to anyone’s knowledge married a prince, has an eponymous holiday spectacular on Apple TV+ entitled “Mariah’s Christmas: The Magic Continues.”

The holiday special will reveal the first and only performance of the multi-Grammy Award-winning global icon’s new single, “Fall in Love at Christmas.”

The singer-songwriter will be joined by Grammy-nominated worldwide artist Khalid and Grammy-winning legend Kirk Franklin, as they bring the spirit of Christmas to fans around the world.

One thing not previously known is that, according to the news release, Mariah is the “Queen of Christmas” who will also ring in the holidays with a dazzling new rendition of fan favorite, “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).”

NBC finds the Christmas spirit with Grammy and Emmy Award-winning global superstar Kelly Clarkson in her holiday special, “Kelly Clarkson Presents: When Christmas Comes Around,” which has a repeat airing on Wednesday, Dec. 15.

Clarkson’s love for the holiday season is no secret, as she celebrates it all year long with “Ambush Christmas” segments on her award-winning daytime talk show with studio viewers and guests treated to offseason snow, music and epic giveaways.

Timed to the release of her new holiday album, Clarkson’s special will be filled with original new songs as well as a curated list of iconic classics, dancing, performances featuring My Band Y’all with a streamlined modern orchestra and remarkable duets.

According to Clarkson, “People celebrate the holidays in different ways and that is the inspiration behind the original songs and the curated classics that are featured in this special. No matter what your heart is feeling, I hope this hour brings you joy and happiness.”

The Lifetime channel presents “My Favorite Christmas Melody,” in which once promising singer-songwriter Abby (Mya) now finds herself writing uninspired jingles for commercials.

As she heads home for the holidays, Abby is enlisted by the local high school music teacher to help save the school arts program. In the process, Abby rediscovers her voice and regains the confidence to go after her dreams.

Not all holiday programming, unless you go to the Hallmark Channel’s inexhaustible supply of Christmas movies, can be as uplifting or in tune with the seasonal spirit of good cheer.

While it pops into select theaters first, Amazon Prime Video’s “Being the Ricardos,” about Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, will drop on the streaming service close to Christmas.

Though the hit “I Love Lucy” television series was a groundbreaking sitcom, Lucille Ball (Nicole Kidman) and Desi Arnaz (Javier Bardem) battled television sponsor Philip Morris, muckraking gossip columnist Walter Winchell and each other.

“Being the Ricardos” offers an intimate glimpse into the pair’s often turbulent partnership, their whirlwind courtship, their passionate love affair and the burning ambition that made them the leading innovators in the Golden Age of television.

On screen, Ball’s signature screwball comic genius, supported by longtime co-stars William Frawley (J.K. Simmons) and Vivian Vance (Nina Arianda) and the show’s legendary writing staff, make “I Love Lucy” an unprecedented popular success.

In the boardroom, Arnaz’s visionary business acumen creates a brand-new paradigm for television production as they transform themselves from B-movie contract players into the founders of the world’s top independent TV production company, Desilu Productions.

But even as their on-screen marriage and soaring success make the pair one of America’s most admired couples, conflicting desires at home begin to eat away at everything Ball and Arnaz have accomplished.

Written and directed by Aaron Sorkin, the story told in “Being the Ricardos” benefits from two stellar actors tasked with revealing the couple’s complex romantic and professional relationship.

It’s likely a good bet that the action-adventure series “MacGyver” (the original one with Richard Dean Anderson) is better known than the cult-film “MacGruber” based on a “Saturday Night Live” parody of the aforementioned TV series.

Peacock’s upcoming action-comedy series “MacGruber” serves as a sequel to the 2010 cult-favorite feature film of the same title, starring once again Will Forte as the titular character.

After rotting in prison for over a decade, America’s ultimate hero and uber patriot MacGruber is finally released. His mission: to take down the mysterious villain from his past, Brigadier Commander Enos Queeth (Billy Zane).

With the entire world in his crosshairs, MacGruber must reassemble his old team, Vicki St. Elmo (Kristen Wiig) and Dixon Piper (Ryan Phillippe), in order to defeat the forces of evil.

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

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