Wednesday, 25 May 2022

Arts & Life

At right, KNTI DJ Eric Patrick plays at Friday's CAM JAM under a beautiful sky in downtown Lakeport. Photo by Harold LaBonte.



LAKEPORT – Week three of the 10-week Summer Concerts in the Park series spotlighted a talented group of Cobb area musicians.

Friday's concern by CAM – which stands for Cobb Area Musicians – attracted an estimated 2,100 or more people to downtown, where they enjoyed cool temperatures and good music at the CAM JAM.

CAM's members, all of whom hail from Cobb Mountain, include Dan Prather, John Gormley, Eric Patrick, Brad Hanson and Don Campbell. After the intermission, Dana Prather joined the band.



Having performed divine miracles in “Bruce Almighty,” Morgan Freeman returns as God in “Evan Almighty,” and he’s got big plans for Jim Carrey’s former colleague and TV station rival from the original film.

Maybe this isn’t the standard sequel because Carrey has moved on to other things, and Steve Carell has moved up in the world with his burgeoning TV and film career as a comedic character.

You may recall that Carell, the smug, preening broadcaster targeted by Carrey’s pranks, could only speak in a torrent of babble while he was on the air. Thus, it should come as no surprise that in “Evan Almighty” Carell’s Evan Baxter is elected to Congress, where his affliction of incoherent prattle would prove fittingly convenient to his duties.

Right from the start, “Evan Almighty” flunks basic civics lessons. This may not matter to most, but the film opens with Evan Baxter campaigning for and winning election to Congress from Buffalo on a simple platform of “Change the World.” Putting aside this obviously frivolous electoral bromide, there’s the unlikely scenario of Evan being elected while apparently still serving as a newscaster.

He makes a farewell TV broadcast after his victory, before packing up his wife Joan (Lauren Graham) and three sons into an oversized Hummer that even Arnold Schwarzenegger wouldn’t be seen driving anymore. Then he arrives at the Capitol and scores a huge office that certainly would never go to a rookie. There’s more, and we’ll get into it later.

When Evan and Joan arrive in the suburban town of Huntsville, Va., they start a new life in an expansive home nestled in the pristine hills of a new subdivision. Making promises to his sons about a hiking trip that he will surely fail to keep, Evan the freshman Congressman is quickly engulfed by the political world once he arrives on the Hill.

His anxiety-ridden chief of staff Marty (John Michael Higgins) is officious as well as efficient. The wisecracking assistant Rita (Wanda Sykes) probably has the best lines, mostly when observing the peculiar behavior of her new boss. Meanwhile, the energetic intern Eugene (Jonah Hill) is hopelessly obsequious, dutifully taking every opportunity to become indispensable.

Meanwhile, Evan seems too naïve and oblivious to the congressional sharks circling around him in his first days in office. One of the House’s most powerful members, Congressman Long (John Goodman) is anxious to get Evan signed on as a junior co-sponsor of a bill that even the most casual observer will detect as failing to pass the simple “smell test.”

Later on, Congressman Long is seen threatening to suspend members of Congress, even though he and even the Speaker of the House have no such unilateral power. Particularly egregious is his ability to direct members of the local police force to confiscate private property. But hey, this is a movie, so why let a few troubling legal questions and constitutional limitations interfere with a good story?

To get back to the essential story, Morgan Freeman’s God appears to Evan and issues one simple, albeit ludicrous, command, namely to build an ark to prepare his family and friends for a mighty flood. As much as Evan would like to dismiss this request, he can’t to do much about all the animals of various shapes and sizes showing up on his wooded land and the birds who take over his Capitol office.

Being transformed into a modern day Noah, Evan’s appearance changes so that he’s longhaired and bearded, looking like the Unabomber and causing a stir at the Capitol with his increasingly odd behavior.

Whether he’s trying to be helpful or comical, God provides Evan with a copy of “Ark Building for Dummies” and trades in the business clothes for a flowing robe.

The comedy revolves around slapstick efforts by Evan not to lose his sanity while performing his dual job as congressman and the emissary of the Almighty. As his appearance changes radically, he baffles his staff desperately trying to cover up his idiosyncrasies. Meanwhile, he has plenty of difficulty convincing his wife and kids that his ark building is not a frantic midlife crisis.

Of course, another part of the comedy is the endless parade of TV news crews parked on his front lawn, scoffing at Evan’s apocalyptic claims of the oncoming flood.

No matter its flaws, “Evan Almighty” has a family friendly vibe that makes it appealing for a summer entertainment. Granted, surprises are few, but there are enough laughs to amuse even the more cynical audience members.

Steve Carell continues to burnish his image as a comedic force, and his Capitol Hill assistants, played by Wanda Sykes, Jonah Hill and John Michael Higgins, pull their weight for wonderful comic relief.

Tim Riley writes film reviews for Lake County News.


CLEARLAKE Three animated favorites will be presented this summer in the Clearlake Nazarene Church "Kid's Summer Movie Matinee" series. Admission is free.

Opening the series, Friday, June 22, is "The Sword and the Stone" the legend of King Arthur, heralding the Kingdom Quest Vacation Bible School offered the week of June 25 to 29.

Coming Friday, Aug. 10 is "Madagascar" animals in the zoo long for the excitement of the wild.

And offered Friday, Aug. 24 is "Happy Feet" in a nation of beautiful singers a dancer is shunned until he proves there is more than one way to celebrate the music in us all.

Showtime is 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. each day. All performances include an intermission discussion, crafts and snacks. Please call for more information and to pre-register your child so we can plan ahead. The church's phone number is 994-4008.

Clearlake Nazarene Church is located at 15917 Olympic Drive in Clearlake.


The Starter Wife commercials on the USA network have been so insistent about the heroine's choice for the final episode, which airs Thursday night – will Molly take up with Sam or Lou?

As a Hollywood starter wife – the one who gets dumped for someone glitzier when her husband achieves mogul status – Molly's been spending some time in Malibu. She's dated both guys: Sam, a former investment broker who is now homeless and doing what looks like lifelong penance for a death he caused, and Lou, an even bigger mogul than Molly's ex. Lou is a bit of a nut case, faking suicide and then attending his own funeral in drag to find out who his real friends are.

Why am I watching this brain candy, you ask? For one thing, we all need a bit of silliness, and it's only six episodes. For a few others, Debra Messing stars as Molly, I enjoy looking at rich people's houses, and I lived in Malibu for a few years before it was totally populated by moguls, so I think I sort of know these people. Call it nostalgia.

In the opening episode, Molly wakes up to a call from her husband, who wants that dog poop cleaned up right now, and apparently doesn't know how to tell the maid himself. It's very 1960s, full of wives who devote their days and nights to keeping their houses perfect and husbands comfortable and husbands who devote their spare time to affairs.

Everything's very materialistic and shallow until Molly moves into a friend's beach house in Malibu Colony, which has been accurately called “the world's most expensive ghetto”. She's lonely, so she makes friends with the young black woman on duty at the colony guardhouse. Pretty soon, she's surrounded by normal folks with normal problems, and filled with empathy and compassion.

And faced with this decision: sweetie Sam or troubled Lou? A roofless camp in the palm trees or three houses plus a flat in Paris?

You know what? I'm betting on neither. There have been hints that she knows how to take care of herself and has some talents. She just might strike out on her own, exploring the newly independent self she has discovered. Wouldn't that be a kick?


  • In the book by Gigi Levangie Grazer, the Molly character is called Gracie. That would be a bit repetitious for Messing after her long starring role in “Will and Grace.”

  • Gossip columns are reporting that Grazer and her mogul husband, Brian Grazer, have separated. Again.

  • On the show's message board, they're a lot more concerned about whether it will become a series than about which guy Molly will choose. And they love Joe Mantegna, who plays Lou.

  • The Pond's “product placements” just might ensure I never buy their products again.

  • Judy Davis is great as a sneaky alcoholic.

E-mail Sophie Annan Jensen at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



It would be easy to say that Alice Waters started her now famous Chez Panisse restaurant just so she could star in her own movie. That would be to ignore her generous impulse to gather friends together for conversation over good food.

Waters fled the turmoil of Vietnam war protests at UC Berkeley in the mid-60s for a year at the Sorbonne. That's where she discovered the glories of fresh local food, and the inexpensive bistro.

She certainly didn't intend to start a food revolution, but the revolution is in full swing today, with supermarket chains trying to lure back their picky shoppers with organic and fair trade foods, and an international Slow Food movement with 80,000 members.

Thomas McNamee is best known for his writing on the environment and the natural world. He does a superb job here of placing the neighborhood restaurant in the environment.

Alice's critics, some of whom worked in the restaurant, are apt to say she's impossible to work with because of her perfectionism about the food, the décor, the flowers. Others complain her only goal is to making money, but McNamee relates the struggles her investors have had to restrain her impulse to ignore the cost, so long as she got the very best to serve the customers. At times, she's been under orders from her financial advisors (including her father) to stop writing checks to charities: She ignored it. It took many years for the restaurant to turn a profit. Alice was always a reluctant cook, who much preferred talking to customers in the dining room. It looks as if getting her out of the kitchen and onto the international stage was the key to profitability.

When she opened Chez Panisse, Alice was in a relationship with Tom Luddy, a discerning film buff who now is co-director of the Telluride Film Festival. Not surprisingly, watching movies was part of the experience in the early days of Chez Panisse, when a full dinner cost $3.75. In fact, the whole venture is based on Marcel Pagnol's Provence trilogy, Marius, Fanny and César.

Her closest relationships have always been a major part of Alice's restaurant, even when the men were gay. Jeremiah Tower's stint in the kitchen created a more formal atmosphere; Fanny, her daughter with ex-husband Stephen Singer, inspired her campaigns for improved food in school lunches, and school gardens. Some friends have created businesses based on her needs, others have created restaurants, based on improving her model.

There are a few charming recipes (like baked goat cheese with garden lettuce, an herb omelette) and lots of gossip, but it's really all about passion, and the strange paths that can create.

Alice Waters and Chez Panisse: The Romantic, Impractical, Often Eccentric, Ultimately Brilliant Making of a Food Revolution. Thomas McNamee, Penguin Press, March, 2007.

E-mail Sophie Annan Jensen at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



II Big rocking at the Library Park Gazebo Friday night. Photo by Harold LaBonte.


LAKEPORT The opening night of the 19th annual Summer Concerts in the Park series played out under warm but breezy skies Friday.

The audience, estimated at 1,200 welcomed, KNTI DJ Eric Patrick as the master of the stage for the two-hour concert by the Hopland based band, II Big.



The five-member band had a bit of a slow start as wind gusts caused excessive noise across the singers' microphones. They also had problems with feedback for the first few tunes but once the bugs were worked out the band sounded great. II Big played a 80-20 split of original numbers with a few rock and roll favorites thrown in.

Their newest CD, "Face In The Glass," hits the stores next week.



Intermission was, as always, a crowd favorite as Eric Patrick awarded sponsor-donated prizes in response to requests for "Dumb Stuff" from the audience.

The second show in the 10-week series will feature Chicken and The Defenders starting a 6:30 p.m. June 22.


A concert goer won a prize for having a tattoo of an American flag. Photo by Harold LaBonte.


Upcoming Calendar

05.25.2022 9:00 am - 1:00 pm
Annual invasive weed tour
05.26.2022 7:30 am - 8:30 am
Rotary Club of Middletown
05.26.2022 9:00 am - 12:00 pm
Lake County Planning Commission
05.26.2022 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Sierra Club Lake Group
05.27.2022 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
12 Tribe yard sale and fundraiser
05.28.2022 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Cobb Estate Sale
05.28.2022 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
12 Tribe yard sale and fundraiser
05.28.2022 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Steele

Mini Calendar



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