Thursday, 18 July 2024

Arts & Life

Ron Keas' work is featured in a collector's edition inaugural calendar. Courtesy photo.



LAKE COUNTY – A local artist's work is being featured in a collector's edition inaugural calendar.

Lucerne resident Ron Keas was invited to display his original oil paintings of Barack Obama at the Manifest Hope Gallery in Denver during last summer's Democratic Convention.

As a result, his paintings were noticed by the right people, and Keas' charming original oil portrait of the Obama family was selected by the publishers of this collector calendar to be featured as the illustration for the month of August, which happens to be President Obama’s birthday month (Aug. 4) This calendar will be for sale at the inauguration ceremony.

Anyone wishing to have a copy of this beautiful collector’s item can order it online at Keas' Web site,, for just $15, including free shipping.

Keas is believed to be the most prolific known painter of Obama, having done 12 portraits, each one uniquely different, all of which can be seen at his Web site. One of the portraits features Obama in a basketball shirt and shorts with “D.C. One” written on it.

When Keas first offered limited edition photographs of some of these paintings on his Web site, he was amazed to receive orders from around the world after Obama won the presidency in November.

Ron’s photo artistry is well known in the county and appears in several official Lake County promotional brochures and websites. He is currently working on a DVD slideshow of the four seasons as seen at Ceago Wine Garden which will be finished soon.



Ron Keas has completed 12 portraits of Obama. Courtesy photo.




What happens when a comedian, Kevin James, best known for his nine-year run in “The King of Queens” TV series, plays a bumbling mall cop trying to emulate Bruce Willis in “Die Hard?” The result may not be the funniest movie of the year, but it doesn’t need to be when you have a likable central character with a great talent for physical humor.

As the lumbering, unlikely action hero, Kevin James has an undeniable charismatic quality even at his most inept, shambling and awkward moments. “Paul Blart: Mall Cop,” for reasons almost immediately clear, is the right vehicle for James’ prodigious comic abilities.

In the titular role of Paul Blart, James employs his considerable heft as a comic vehicle. A single, suburban dad trying to make ends meet as a security officer at a massive New Jersey mall, Blart aspires to become a state trooper.

Ever-so-close to passing the exam, he continues to fail due his hypoglycemia kicking in at the most inopportune time. Still, he takes his job as mall cop very seriously, even when no one else does, including his lazy, apathetic new partner Veck Sims (Keir O’Donnell) and all his colleagues, for that matter.

Blart is on the front lines of mall safety, going so far as to flag down an elderly disabled gentleman for exceeding the speed limit on his motorized scooter. He can apprehend such scofflaws with the advantage of patrolling the expansive mall on his Segway. Blart puts to good use, at least for comedic effect, this personal transport vehicle that never caught on with the general public. The Segway is used so frequently that it should qualify for a supporting role in the credits.

Once married to an illegal immigrant who only wanted her green card, Blart lives at home with his young daughter Maya (Raini Rodriguez) and his mom (Shirley Knight), whose solution to most problems is the offering of another slice of pie. Blart observes that pie “just fills the cracks in the heart,” as he merrily slathers a big piece with peanut butter.

Though lonely and socially awkward, Blart nonetheless has his eyes on pretty Amy (Jayma Mays), who sells hair extensions at a mall kiosk. She seems amused by his attentions, even when he runs the Segway into the back of a minivan on display.

In an effort to mingle with his co-workers, Blart has too much to drink at an after-work party, turning unusually obnoxious and somewhat aggressive. Apparently, he has no capacity for alcohol, and as a result ends up with tattoos all over his back.

Even more trouble ensues when he must confront a belligerent, loud-mouthed female shopper who just happens to be as fat as he is. One unfortunate remark leads to a full-on fight, where Blart gets beat up because he won’t hit a girl.

Now that we know Blart has his foibles and weaknesses, we can only imagine what may go wrong on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving when shoppers invade the mall en masse.

The film shifts abruptly into an action picture when an extreme team of villains take over the mall in order to steal customers’ credit card information. The criminals include skateboarders, BMX riders and free runners. I am not familiar with free runners, but these people display unusually agile, athletic abilities.

As part of their operation to seize control of the mall, these X-Games thugs take a few hostages, including Amy, the object of Blart’s huge crush. For his part, Blart is at first oblivious to the takeover, since he’s playing video games in a store.

To foil the dastardly scheme and to save the girl, Blart goes completely Rambo inside the mall, adapting to his natural environment in clever ways to thwart and defeat the criminals. Not surprisingly, Blart becomes a reluctant hero, even impressing the obnoxious SWAT team leader (Bobby Cannavale) who has less than fond memories of Blart from high school.

Emanating from the Adam Sandler production factory, “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” is the kind of slapstick comedy one would expect, and it doesn’t disappoint. But more than just laughs at the expense of Kevin James’ girth, the movie veers off into full-blown action turf topped off with a heavy dose of sentimentality.

What makes “Paul Blart” endearing for the audience is the undeniable likability of its plus-sized hero. Kevin James just might succeed as the comic successor to the late, lovable John Candy.


It’s fitting that appended to a movie review with the increasing rare PG rating, we should offer up an animated family film for consideration in its DVD release.

“Igor” features a stellar ensemble cast of celebrity voices. The hilarious animated twist on the classic monster movie, “Igor” has its titular character (John Cusack), as the nice-guy assistant to a mad scientist (John Cleese), creating a female Franken-monster.

But Igor’s creation, Eva (Molly Shannon), is sweet and sings show tunes. That is, until she falls into the clutches of Dr. Schadenfreude (Eddie Izzard) and his shape-shifting girlfriend (Jennifer Coolidge).

Igor and his sidekicks (Steve Buscemi and Sean Hayes) have to save Eva and their country from the evil King Malbert (Jay Leno).

Another DVD release worth mentioning is that for “The Rockford Files: Season Six, The Final Season.”

Starring James Garner, this TV series is at the top of my list, right alongside “Mannix,” for the best in crime shows.

All six seasons are good to have, but I would forget the “Rockford” TV movie specials that made a comeback about 15 years after the series ended.

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


LAKE COUNTY – Since moving the Winter Music Fest to the Soper-Reese Community Theatre the demand for seats for the annual show has gone up, and the Lake County Arts Council has decided to make them available more than a month before the event.

This is the 17th Winter Music Fest, and last year's was the first presentation in the Soper-Reese since reconstruction work began.

The Soper-Reese has a well-managed, state-of-the-art sound system, plus massive stage lighting and comfortable seats every one of which has a great view of the stage.

Tickets can be purchased now at the Main Street Gallery, 325 N. Main St., Lakeport; Catfish Books in the Willowtree Mall in Lakeport; and Wild About Books in Clearlake.

To get reserved tickets, the Soper-Reese Community Theatre box office will be open from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursdays beginning Jan. 22.

A seating chart showing where the reserved seats are can be seen at the box office or at

If you want to get your reserved tickets before Jan. 22, or anytime the box office is closed, they can be had by telephone at 263-0577 with either Visa or Mastercard.

While all the seats have good sight lines, reserved seats are close to the stage, and usually are sold out long before opening night.

Shows will be presented on Saturday, Feb. 28, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, March 1, at 2 p.m.

For more information call the Soper-Reese Community Theatre at 263-0577, or the Lake County Arts Council at 263-6658.


LAKE COUNTY – Lake County Theatre Co.'s (LCTC) spring musical will be “The Pajama Game.”

LCTC is teaming up with Mendocino College again to put on a production which is both a class (or two) and a great community theater experience.

One class is in performance and the other is in stage production (lights, scenery, costumes, back stage, etc.). If any of this interests you, contact Mendocino College and sign up, only $33 per class per transferable unit – education as well as enjoyment. Highs school youth only pay $11 per class and are definitely welcome.

This wonderful musical comedy is scheduled to rehearse on the stage of Little Theatre at the Lake County Fairgrounds on Martin Street in Lakeport on Tuesdays and Thursdays with performances to be held in May, but auditions are taking place right away, also at the fairgrounds at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 20 and Thursday, Jan 22.

The music of “The Pajama Game” by George Abbott and Richard Bissell is well known to many (“Hernando's Hideaway,” “Hey There” and “Steam Heat” to name just a few), but the plot and the characters may need to be re-introduced.

The story revolves around a pajama factory which is about to go on strike over a seven-and-a-half-cent raise. Of course the hero represents management and the heroine represents labor and, well, the course of true love never runs smooth, does it?

The cast will include a huge number of singers, dancers and actors (around 30 of them!) of all adult ages. Unfortunately, there will not be any kids under 12 in this one.

This will be a great musical for the beginner in theater as well as theater veterans. Give it a try!

For more information, call 279-2595.


LAKEPORT – Cafe Victoria will mark its third anniversary this Saturday, Jan. 17.

The milestone occasion will be celebrated with music and poetry from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Local talent will include poet Lorna Sue Sides; singer-songwriter Karen Priest and Clear Lake Park Symphony Orchestra; musician-singer, Phil Mathewson; and many other performers.

Special pasta menu will be offered to celebrate this third year in business.

A Chamber of Commerce representative will be doing the ribbon cutting.

There will be free entertainment all day long, so stop by 301 Main St., on the corner of Third and Main St. in downtown Lakeport.


LOWER LAKE – Lake County Theatre Co. (LCTC) is rehearsing a play about ghosts to play in the wonderful old theater in the Lower Lake Schoolhouse Museum.

The Weaver Auditorium is full of the memories of days gone by, so it is a perfect place for a ghost story.

“Gramercy Ghost” by John Cecil Holm is a retro comedy, set in the 1950s when ladies still wore gloves and were extremely uncomfortable with a strange, unmarried man spending the evening ... even if he is already dead!

The ghosts in “Gramercy Ghost" are from the Revolutionary War but you would swear that you have met them before. They are young guys who hang around a lot, bug the people near them and talk to each other about women that they think are hot. Sound familiar?

An experienced cast is knee-deep in rehearsals even as we speak. A few new faces will add mystery and flair to the hilarious haunting that everyone is sure to enjoy. Ooooo ... spooky!

The show is scheduled for Feb. 13, 14, 20 and 21 at 7 p.m., with 2 p.m. matinees on Feb. 21 and 22.

Tickets will be $14 for reserved and $12 for general seating, $2 less in each category for seniors, students and LCTC members.

Reserved and general tickets will be available on Jan. 12 at Catfish Books in Lakeport (263-4454) and Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce in Clearlake (994-3600). General seating tickets will be available at Shannon Ridge Tasting Room in Clearlake Oaks (996-9656).


Upcoming Calendar

07.18.2024 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Clearlake City Council
07.20.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
07.23.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
07.24.2024 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
ReCoverCA Homebuyer Assistance Workshop
07.27.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
07.30.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.03.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
08.06.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.10.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
08.13.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park

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