Saturday, 24 February 2024

Arts & Life

Let’s waste no time getting to the point. Better than its 1986 source material, “Top Gun: Maverick” fires on all cylinders to deliver an adrenaline-charged, suspenseful entertainment that demands to be seen on the large screen.

Several names are attached to this film in the producer capacity, but the only name that really matters is Jerry Bruckheimer, the creative force behind the “Beverly Hills Cop” franchise, “Pirates of the Caribbean,” and “Bad Boys.”

With a track record of incredible success and having produced “Top Gun,” Bruckheimer, reunited with Tom Cruise after being the actor’s mentor more than three decades ago, is an essential factor putting the pieces in place for electrifying action.

Once a hotshot Navy pilot, Tom Cruise’s Pete “Maverick” Mitchell has only ascended to the rank of Captain and is content to remain one of the Navy’s top aviators because any advancement in rank would ground him.

Like all of his fellow pilots, Captain Mitchell goes by his own aviator call sign of “Maverick,” which is a most fitting nickname given his propensity for skirting the rules if not outright being insubordinate.

Based in the Navy’s equivalent of Siberia in the Mojave Desert, Maverick runs afoul of Rear Admiral Chester “Hammer” Cain (a grizzly Ed Harris) with an unauthorized test of the speed limit of an advanced fighter jet.

Rear Admiral Cain tells Maverick that “the future is coming, and you’re not in it.” Even though he’s ruffled more than a few feathers during his time in the Navy, Maverick still has friends in high places to save his bacon.

After all, it’s only the beginning of the story, so we know Maverick is not headed to the unemployment line. And it may not be the last time he’ll disobey a command or bend the regulations.

His former nemesis from the old days, Tom “Iceman” Kazansky (Val Kilmer) is now a 4-star Admiral who knows that Maverick is the only pilot with the expertise and daring needed to train a special detachment to complete a crucial mission.

The operation is so dangerous that only the most elite pilots could be recruited for the job, and yet this new generation of aviators doesn’t have the proficiency required to have a chance at returning home safely.

As a result, Maverick is shipped off to the Miramar Naval Base in San Diego, the place where it all began for him 36 years ago, with the assignment to teach a dozen aviators the logistics and tactics for a daring excursion into a foreign country.

Teaching is not exactly what Maverick had in mind, and his new commanding officer, Admiral Beau “Cyclone” Simpson (Jon Hamm) is another by-the-book stiff who on at least one occasion threatens to have Maverick court-martialed and dishonorably discharged.

Given his old-school manner, Maverick finds it challenging to connect with the young pilots in the Top Gun program, one of them being the supremely arrogant and brash Lt. Jake “Hangman” Seresin (Glen Powell).

But the more troubling relationship for Maverick is the fact that Lt. Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller) is the son of his former wingman Lt. Nick “Goose” Bradshaw, who was killed in a training accident.

At the heart of this new story is the conflict between Maverick and Rooster, as their history runs deep to the time that Maverick and Goose had to eject from their F-14 Tomcat and the fact that Goose did not survive is a cross that Maverick has had to bear.

Another part of Maverick’s past is a reunion with Penny Benjamin, a character only mentioned in the original movie, now brought to life by Jennifer Connelly, who’s the owner of The Hard Deck bar, the hangout for the Navy aviators.

Penny and Maverick had a brief romance and rekindled the relationship over the years, and while their breakups were amicable, now the sparks start to fly again so that the aging hotshot pilot might actually settle down for a change.

In any case, whether the pilots are bonding over touch football on the beach or enjoying a raucous time at their seaside hideaway, the quest for a sneak attack on a nuclear installation deep in enemy territory is what matters most.

The stakes are extremely high as the pilots must navigate narrow canyons flying at low altitude to evade radar detection. It’s impossible to watch the daring flights and not feel the tension deep in your heart and soul.

There is a majesty and beauty to the sophistication of the aerial sequences of F-18 fighter jets engaged in dogfights or rousing evasive maneuvers. The visceral delight of muscular aerial heroics on display is simply mind-blowing.

“Top Gun: Maverick,” steeped in old-fashioned nostalgia celebrating America’s military might, does not disappoint.

The F-18 jets soaring in the sky and dodging enemy fire are truly breathtaking and unnerving, and the excitement of the airborne thrills cannot be overstated.

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

LAKEPORT, Calif. — The Lakeport Senior Center will hold auditions for a comedy called “Mother May I “ written by one of our own local playwrights, UCLA graduate Marcello Bice.

No theater experience is necessary to try out.

The show is a fundraiser sponsored by the Lake Family Resource Center and will feature dinner and dessert.

If you are interested in any aspect of the production, you are invited to the senior center on Friday, June 3, or Saturday, June 4, at 6 p.m.

The Lakeport Senior Center is located at 527 Konocti Ave.


A television series can’t get much better than having a police procedural or a legal drama based on the books of prolific author Michael Connelly, and “The Lincoln Lawyer” proves to be eminently watchable over the period of its 10 episodes.

For this series on Netflix, Connelly serves as executive producer to bring his iconoclastic criminal defense attorney Mickey Haller to the small screen almost a dozen years after Matthew McConaughey played the smooth-talking counselor in the movie of the same title.

No small measure of success for “The Lincoln Lawyer” goes to creator David E. Kelley, a graduate of Boston University with a Juris Doctor degree, who practiced law only to find his hobby was writing a legal thriller screenplay.

The rest is history for Kelley as he first wound up as a writer and story editor on Steven Bochco’s NBC legal series “L.A. Law,” and eventually became the creative force for other series like the courtroom drama “The Practice” and its spinoff “Boston Legal.”

That Michael Connelly is gifted at creating notable characters is well-established with a series of books about LAPD detective Harry Bosch, a character so brilliantly brought to the small screen by Titus Welliver in “Bosch” and now “Bosch: Legacy.”

With Harry Bosch and Mickey Haller steeped in the turf of the Los Angeles police and legal establishments, one would hope for some crossover plot lines to bring them together but that is not to be, at least for this first season.

As “The Lincoln Lawyer” opens, Mickey Haller (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, a charismatic character in his own right) is first seen at the beach, wistfully staring at the ocean waves and thinking back to an accident that derailed his life for more than a year.

Fate was apparently not kind as Haller became addicted to painkillers following the accident, putting his career on hold. Known for working from the back seat of his Lincoln SUV, Haller at least didn’t have to keep up with office expenses.

Now sober, he’s dealing with two ex-wives, the first one being Neve Campbell’s Maggie McPherson, nicknamed “McFierce” for being a tough prosecutor, who is the mother of their teenage daughter Hayley (Krista Walker).

The second former spouse is Lorna (Becki Newton), who steps in to help Haller get his professional life back on track as the best defense attorney in Los Angeles once a fortuitous circumstance drops unexpectedly in his lap.

After old colleague Jerry Vincent is gunned down in a parking garage, Haller is summoned to the chambers of presiding Judge Mary Holder (LisaGay Hamilton) to be informed that Vincent bequeathed his entire practice to the Lincoln Lawyer.

Understandably for being aware of the lawyer’s recent history, Judge Holder is wary of handing over all of Vincent’s cases unless Haller agrees to being monitored with weekly meetings to validate his competency.

The Vincent portfolio consists of a variety of cases, some of them low-level criminal offenses and the pro bono case of Izzy Letts (Jazz Raycole), a recovering addict charged with theft of an ostensibly valuable necklace.

There is, however, one very substantial criminal case that has all the makings of a celebrity media clown show that is tabloid fodder. An obnoxious rich, white guy billionaire is charged with the murder of his wife and her lover.

The high-profile murder trial of videogame developer Trevor Elliot (Christopher Gorman) takes on immediate urgency for Haller since his client insists that his courtroom drama must start as soon as possible, even if more time is needed for the attorney’s preparation.

The court of public opinion has already tried the odious tech entrepreneur to be guilty as charged, and the evidence appears overwhelmingly to point to a slam dunk guilty verdict.

Having to juggle some other cases at the same time while also dealing with ongoing family issues, such as sparring with the prosecutor's ex-wife and trying to be more involved in his daughter’s life, Haller’s charm can only do so much.

To spend more time on his homework, Haller hires Izzy to be his chauffeur, because he claims to work better when his Lincoln is in motion while listening to jazz music. Indeed, he’s not your typical counselor.

Not all legal work is motor-driven. Haller has taken over Vincent’s downtown office with Lorna as the assistant and his best friend Cisco (Angus Sampson), a motorcyclist who once rode with a gang, acting as sidekick and private investigator.

Haller’s world is populated with colorful characters, reminding one that he’s almost like a legal version of James Garner’s private eye on “The Rockford Files,” and even more so when having to deal with skeptical, hard-nosed police detective Griggs (Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine).

“The Lincoln Lawyer” works best off the charm of its leading character and those in his orbit. The plot moves at a nice pace and the courtroom dialogue is often riveting. Overall, this is a series deserving of an encore.

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

Georgina Marie reading from the “Restore” book at EcoArts Opening in 2019. Photo by Gemini Garcia.

MIDDLETOWN, Calif. – The Middletown Art Center presents “Indigenous Poetics,” a poetry reading event hosted by Lake County Poet Laureate Georgina Marie Guardado on Saturday, June 4, from 4 to 6 p.m.

The public is invited to join Guardado and guests at the MAC or on Zoom.

This event will celebrate Indigenous voices in conjunction with MAC’s current project “Weaving: Weaving Baskets, Weaving Bridges,” a year-long project designed collaboratively by Pomo culture bearers and MAC team members.

Guardado has curated this reading, inviting a monumental group of readers who collectively are from Lakota, Dakota, Cherokee, Passamaquoddy, Amazonian, Koyungkowi, Mojave, Peruvian and Mexican Indigenous backgrounds.

Lake County poet Mia Ruiz and Ukiah poet, also Ukiah Poet Laureate Emerita, Linda Noel will read from their body of work, along with Bay Area poets Alison Hart and Nanette Deetz, both compelling and influential poets who are pillars in their communities.

Seating at MAC is limited so reserve your spot in advance at

Zoom participants are also asked to register in advance so that the MAC staff can adjust technology accordingly. A suggested donation of $10 is requested however no one will be turned away for lack of funds.

Weaving is supported in part by the California Arts Council, or CAC, and the generosity of local Indigenous and non-indigenous community members. To learn more about how the CAC supports arts engagement throughout California visit

Middletown Art Center is located at 21456 State Highway 175 at the junction of Highway 29.

To find out more about MAC events, programs, opportunities, and ways to support the MAC’s work weaving the arts into the fabric of life in Lake County visit or Like/Follow Middletown Art Center (@mtownartcenter) on Facebook and Instagram to stay up-to-date with what’s happening at MAC.

Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

There is a stretch of childhood that can be filled with such vivid images, yet it is often hard to determine whether what is being recalled is memory of our experience, or a memory of what we have been told.

Jessica Abughattas’ poem, “Watching My Mother,” ends with such optimism and confidence, even though the details of what she remembers are a stylized and beautiful version of disquiet.

In this elegant poem, she enacts the strange magic of how we often organize memory in a manner that allows us to survive.

Watching My Mother
By Jessica Abughattas

Beside the Ford Thunderbird,
a suitcase splayed open.
She collects her clothes
from the driveway.
The yellow jumper collapses
into a million threads of saffron.
She keeps dropping them.
They wither and dissolve,
petal by petal
into pavement.
Her hands are rivers.
Her eyes, mascara bats.
Her hair is crying.
I am five and perfect.

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 ©2020 by Jessica Abughattas, “Watching My Mother” from Strip (University of Arkansas Press, 2020.) First Published in Nelle, Issue Two, 2019. 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.

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. — Barry “The Fish” Melton brings his all-star band back to Lake County on Sunday, June 5, at 2 p.m. outside at Cache Creek Vineyards and Winery for a benefit for KPFZ, Lake County Community Radio.

Cache Creek Winery has donated the venue to KPFZ and is located at 250 New Long Valley Road, just off Highway 20, 2.5 miles East of the Clearlake Oaks roundabout.

The gate opens at 1 p.m. Bring lawn chairs. There are no advance ticket sales, just $20 admission at the winery. There will be wine, beer, water and food for sale.

Renowned guitarist Barry “The Fish” Melton is co-founder of the 1960s band Country Joe and The Fish.

This is his band’s fourth benefit for Lake County Community Radio and the first three (2015, 2017 and 2018) were sellouts at the Soper Reese Theatre.

The Barry Melton Band has been playing together since the early 1980s, and continues to uphold the tradition of 1960s San Francisco Rock and Roll.

Melton lives in Lake County and has had dual careers: rock musician and defense attorney. He is now retired as a lawyer, but juggled both careers for 40 years.

He is one of the few lawyers in California who studied law on his own (while touring as a rock musician) without formally attending law school.

Peter Albin is on bass and co-founded Big Brother & The Holding Co., which featured Janis Joplin. Their album “Cheap Thrills” is one of the masterpieces of the 1960s San Francisco psychedelic era and was No. 1 on the charts for eight weeks, and the best selling album of 1968. Albin has played with Melton for about 50 years.

Lowell Levinger, aka “Banana,” is a founding member of the Youngbloods, whose most famous recording is the classic “Get Together.” Banana plays mostly electric piano, but he is a multi-talented musician who also plays guitar, bass, banjo, mandolin and mandola. He toured and recorded for over 20 years as the sole accompanist to Mimi Farina, the sister of Joan Baez. He recently toured Europe and the United States with Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul.

Drummer Roy Blumenfeld co-founded the Blues Project and Seatrain, and has played with many famous musicians, including Chuck Berry, Santana, John Lee Hooker, Elvin Bishop, Al Kooper, Steve Katz, Danny Kalb and Nick Gravenitis.

David Aguilar has played guitar with the Doobie Brothers, Big Brother & The Holding Co., Norton Buffalo, Jackson Brown, Lester Chambers, Bo Diddley, Bonnie Raitt, Roy Rogers and Maria Muldaur. In 2013 he was recognized as Sonoma Treasure Artist of the Year.

The band is being joined for the first time by tenor saxophonist Nancy Wright, who has her own band, the Rhythm and Roots Band, plays regularly in the Bay Area, and has performed numerous times in Lake County at the Soper Reese Theatre and the Blue Wing Saloon.

She has played with John Lee Hooker, Elvin Bishop, Joe Louis Walker, Tommy Castro and Big Brother & The Holding Co.

If you find yourself in the mood on Sunday, June 5, to spend the afternoon outside, listening to a bunch of rock and roll legends, dancing and supporting KPFZ, head out to the beautiful Cache Creek Vineyards and Winery for a 2 p.m. show.

No advance sales, $20 at the gate, bring lawn chairs, and the gate opens at 1 p.m. Sorry, no pets allowed.

Upcoming Calendar

03.02.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Special Olympics Polar Plunge
03.03.2024 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Pianists Benefit Concert
St. Patrick's Day
Easter Sunday
Easter Monday
Tax Day

Mini Calendar



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