Friday, 14 June 2024

Arts & Life

Accomplished musicians Laura and Darin Smith have both won wide acclaim for their skills, including awards at Weaverville's "Open Fiddle" contest, the Nevada Championships and numerous other local and regional contests. They will appear in this year's annual CLPA Christmas Concert with Laura on violin and Darin on cello, playing a medley of holiday songs they arranged themselves. Along with performing the Potter Valley pair are music teachers. Photo courtesy of Andi Skelton.



LAKEPORT – The annual Christmas concert of the Lake County Symphony, under the sponsorship of Clear Lake Performing Arts (CLPA), will take place this year on Sunday, Dec. 21 at the Marge Alakszay Center at 3 p.m.

The center is located at the Lakeport Unified School District headquarters on the campus of Clear Lake High School on Lange Street in Lakeport.

Featured along with the orchestra, will be the always popular brother and sister act of Laura and Darin Smith, Lake County vocalist Tamah McQueen and the CLPA Youth Orchestra, directed by Wes Follett.

Over the years the Christmas concert has proven to be one of Lake County's most popular musical events, and the 2008 version promises to maintain that tradition.

Music Director John Parkinson has created a program of largely popular-music Christmas favorites, many of which he adapted personally for guest vocal artist McQueen. McQueen, who was born and raised in Lake County and attended schools in Kelseyville, has worked extensively with Parkinson during her music career.

She will sing a number of holiday classics including Vince Guaraldi's "Christmas Time is Here" Mel Torme's "The Christmas Song," Irving Berlin's "White Christmas and Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn's "Let it Snow."




Kelseyville vocal artist Tamah McQueen will join the Lake County Symphony in presenting a series of popular holiday favorites at the CLPA Christmas Concert on Dec. 21. She not only lives in Kelseyville but is a product of that community's school system, having been influenced by such local music notables as Lyle Stockwell, Nick Biondo and Tom Aiken. Photo courtesy of Andi Skelton.



The concert will open with the full orchestra performing Handel's traditional tribute to the faithful, the Overture from the "Messiah" and will conclude with the last of a three-number sing-along – the "Hallelujah Chorus" from the same piece.

Other sing-along numbers include a medley of "Joy to the World, Oh Come all ye Faithful, The First Noel, Hark the Herald Angels Sing and We Wish you a Merry Christmas" as well as Leroy Anderson's "Sleigh Ride." The audience is encouraged to sing along with the performers.

An overwhelming audience favorite is the "Nutcracker Suite" by Tchaikovsky, and this year the Symphony aims to please, with all seven hallmark pieces from the Suite, opening with the "March of the Nutcracker" and ending with the magical "Waltz of the Flowers." Following this Director Parkinson has chosen a mix of popular and religious songs to wrap up the Symphony's first half

As always members of the Clear Lake Performing Arts Auxiliary will provide holiday cookies and juice during intermission, after which the Smith siblings will perform a special Christmas Medley which they have arranged themselves Laura is an accomplished, award-winning violinist and fiddler and a skilled music teacher.

Her 15-year-old brother Darin plays a variety of string instruments but has selected the cello as his instrument of choice for this concert. In prior appearances in CLPA concerts the Smith youngsters have proven to be true crowd-pleasers.

Admission to the concert is $15 for CLPA members and $20 for the general public. Youths under 18 are admitted free.


LAKEPORT – Come share the spirit of the holiday season with a free live radio broadcast of “A Christmas Carol” performed on the stage of the Soper-Reese Community Theater on Dec. 20 at 5:30 p.m.

Just about everyone is very familiar with one version or another of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” but have you ever had the story read to you? This “Ghost Story of Christmas” is particularly well suited to the medium of radio — where your imagination provides unlimited special effects.

By the way, did you know it was an English custom in the 1800s to tell ghost stories on Christmas Eve? This came from the old pagan Yule celebrations of Saturnalia and the Winter Solstice.

When Tony Palermo wrote his radio adaptation of “A Christmas Carol” he meant to take the audience back to Charles Dickens’ original purpose for writing the story some 165 years ago. His version is based on the production done by Orson Wells in 1939, staring Lionel Barrymore.

Palermo’s radio tale seeks to play up the ghostly aspects of the story — but in the context of the 19th century Christian beliefs.

Ebenezer Scrooge holds terrible, anti-social attitudes. His character is based upon Charles Dickens’ regrets for his own personal behavior — in not being kind enough to his fellow man, in not being charitable enough to unfortunates; in fact, Scrooge’s history is a reflection upon Dickens’ early life.

Dickens’s major literary themes were memory and forgiveness. He believed that through experiencing the joy and sorrow of memory, you could learn to live properly in this world; hence, Ebenezer Scrooge’s redemption is carried out by memory, example, and fear.

On the stage, before the actual reading, demonstrations will be given showing how the sound effects are made and there will be a little background about how radio dramas are produced. The artists will be reading the script and technicians will be producing on stage sound effects.

A cast of 12, directed by the Soper-Reese Artistic Director Bert Hutt will present the live radio broadcast of this classic tale of redemption performed live on stage of the Soper-Reese Community Theater and broadcast on KPFZ 88.1 FM, Community Supported Radio for Lake County.

This program is underwritten by the generous donations of CPS-County Air Properties and BitSculptor and is free for everyone who comes to the theater or has a radio.

The Lake County Arts Council and KPFZ radio thanks you, the community, for your support. Please join us for this free presentation on Dec. 20 at 5:30 p.m.


Visit KPFZ 88.1 FM online at


LUCERNE – Organizers reports that everyone had so much fun at the Dec. 6 Harbor Village Art Day that they are doing it again on Saturday, Dec. 13.

Harbor Village Artists are inviting all those who missed last Saturday to join them for another great day of demonstrations by the artists of The Gourd Gallery, Pomo Fine Arts Gallery, Lakeside and Konocti Art Galleries.

Painting, jewelry making, wood burning, carving and Native American craftmanship will be ongoing from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Join them at 6197 E. Highway 20 in Lucerne and enjoy the music, munchies and great art in progress.



Sorry to say, this reviewer is not familiar with the alleged 1951 science-fiction classic “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” the basis for the quasi-remake starring Keanu Reeves.

The emotionless, stilted actor is not going against type as the alien visitor who comes to Earth on a mission to address world leaders, presumably at the United Nations since he crash lands his giant orb in Central Park. Fittingly, Reeves has an acting range that goes from emotionless to lacking emotion, and so he’s terrific for a robotic creature.

Now that the Cold War has practically receded from public memory, “The Day the Earth Stood Still” takes up the cause of climate change. Keanu Reeves’ Klaatu is, in fact, a global warming alarmist and probably a card-carrying member of Greenpeace.

To this end while holding negative views of humanity, the self-righteous Klaatu exclaims that mankind is killing the planet, and so he’s just going to have to destroy mankind. His perverse, twisted logic wears thin after awhile, and you find yourself hoping that a few Sidewinder missiles might get the job done. OK, maybe it’s just me wanting to see this annoying alien wasted, but by the movie’s end you may come around to my point of view.

Making this science-fiction snoozer a bit livelier is the presence of the attractive Jennifer Connelly as Dr. Helen Benson, a renowned astrobiologist. What movie isn’t improved by a hot scientist, even if her job title is obscure?

In any case, considering her status as a widow, she’s saddled with the care of her estranged stepson Jacob (Jaden Smith), who happens to be one of the most annoying kids you could find, and who by the way adds virtually nothing to the story. After a set of circumstances hardly worth contemplating, Helen and the kid end up chauffeuring Klaatu around the New Jersey countryside, eluding a massive military manhunt.

While on the run, Helen seems to be trying to buy some time from Klaatu’s plan to eradicate all human life. So she takes him to the home of Professor Barnhardt (John Cleese), a Nobel Prize-winning physicist who’s presented as a genius operating on a much higher level of mental well-being.

When Barnhardt absorbs the full measure of Klaatu’s mission on Earth, he tries to persuade the alien to give humans a second chance to rise to the occasion. The professor makes the point that we only act when on the precipice. This stuff would be ripe for mocking by the John Cleese of Monty Python fame. Alas, he plays it straight.

Another character who plays it straight but turns out to be much funnier is Kathy Bates as the United States Secretary of Defense Regina Jackson. Not only does she sedate, sequester and interrogate Klaatu inside a maximum security military installation, she constantly barks orders to annihilate the alien sphere, as well as Klaatu’s gigantic bodyguard, the robot Gort.

Oddly enough, Gort looks like the Oscar of the Academy Awards, with the notable exception of the laser beams emanating from the slit on his face. Unfortunately, Gort is indestructible, even after he’s placed inside an underground silo.

“The Day the Earth Stood Still” is filled with many things that make little sense or seem illogical or out of place. How come we see a trucker and his rig vaporized on a remote highway that looks like it’s somewhere in Texas? Meanwhile, most of Manhattan remains standing, except for Giants Stadium? In any case, if the aliens wanted to make a statement, why not destroy the new Yankee Stadium, while leaving the old one still in place? That would have been a lot more fun.

For a fleeting moment, I thought about viewing the original film, more out of curiosity than for any intrinsic interest in a science-fiction potboiler. Upon further reflection, it seems best to just move on. For whatever reason, science fiction aficionados may be drawn to this updated version of “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” choosing to ignore the warnings of a non-believer.


The antidote to dispiriting science-fiction is some good old-fashioned TV that seems just as otherworldly but for different reasons.

Revisit the folksy, small-town charm of Hooterville and the quaint comfort of the Shady Rest Hotel in “Petticoat Junction: The Official First Season.”

This feel-good series, from the creators of “The Beverly Hillbillies,” follows the everyday happenings of the Bradley family – widowed mother Kate (Bea Benaderet); her three beautiful daughters, Billie Jo (Jeannine Riley), Bobbie Jo (Pat Woodell), and Betty Jo (Linda Henning); and their genial Uncle Joe (Edgar Buchanan), who fancied himself as the hotel’s general manager but somehow managed to avoid anything that might be considered work.

The first season snagged guest stars such as Dennis Hopper and TV icon Adam West. “Petticoat Junction: The Official First Season” includes all 38 episodes of the classic comedy plus interviews with some cast members.

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


CLEARLAKE – A canine Christmas celebration is planned for this Saturday, Dec. 13, at Wild About Books.

The doggie festivities will begin at 2 p.m.

Dana Moore's new book for the holidays is “Doglett Finds a Christmas Tree.”

Adults and children love this book, which is a perfect stocking stuffer for the pet lover in your life.

Dana Moore and Doglett will be on hand to sign and paw print your book.

Davis Photography will be on hand for Christmas photos of families and their dogs.

Wild About Books is located at 14290 Olympic Drive, Clearlake, telephone 994-9453. Visit the store on the Web at


LAKE COUNTY – Andy Weiss, author of “Confessions from Panic City,” will be the guest on KPFZ, 88.1 FM, on Monday Dec. 15, at 2 p.m., on the Accent on Words show.

Weiss, a Lake County writer, published this book in 2006, but never before promoted it. He says he is willing to promote it now because he wants it to help people.

He will be discussing the subject of the book – what he learned during the 10 years he experienced panic attacks – as well as the genre of memoir and non-fiction writing in general.

The show's host is Lake County Poet Laureate Mary McMillan.


Upcoming Calendar

Flag Day
06.14.2024 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Middletown Days team roping
06.14.2024 8:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Kelseyville High School commencement ceremony
06.15.2024 8:00 am - 06.16.2024 1:00 am
Middletown Days
06.15.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
06.15.2024 6:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Middletown Art Center exhibit opening
Father's Day
06.16.2024 8:00 am - 9:00 pm
Middletown Days
06.16.2024 9:00 am - 11:30 am
Moose Lodge Father’s Day breakfast
06.18.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park

Mini Calendar



Award winning journalism on the shores of Clear Lake. 



Enter your email here to make sure you get the daily headlines.

You'll receive one daily headline email and breaking news alerts.
No spam.