Monday, 24 June 2024

Arts & Life

KELSEYVILLE – For the past 29 years a highlight of the holiday season has been the annual Christmas Celebration presented by Clear Lake Performing Arts and featuring the Lake County Symphony.

This year's program will take place on Sunday, Dec. 16 at 3 pm. in the Student Center at Kelseyville High School.

Orchestra director John Parkinson has assembled a stellar cast of artists to help salute the season with music ranging from Christmas traditional to pop to jazz. Much of the program consists of Parkinson's own musical arrangements.

Guest vocalist Paula Samonte, who was forced to cancel last year's appearance due to illness, will return for this year's concert.

In prior appearances Samonte has developed a Lake County fan base that loves her jazz-based pop renditions of such seasonal favorites as “White Christmas,” “Let it Snow,” “Christmas Time is Here” and many others.

Samonte is a singer and actress who has toured the US, recorded with Sarah Vaughn and played leading roles in Broadway musical productions. Her CDs include “Paula! Live at the Playhouse” and “From Rags to Riches” She currently lives in Mendocino County and teaches singing.

Another invited guest artist will be harpist Jessica Schaeffer playing her parts with the backing of the full orchestra.

Other audience favorites will be the Potter Valley sister-brother duo of Laura and Darin Smith. The two teenagers were a huge hit at last year's Christmas celebration, and have been invited back by popular request.

Laura is an accomplished classical violinist, but also is equally comfortable playing old-time and Celtic-style fiddle music. Fourteen-year-old Darin started playing violin at age 6 and a year later turned to the cello, where he excelled in playing “fiddle style.” He also is expert on the tenor guitar.

The Smiths recently released a new CD entitled “West Road” which is where their Potter Valley home is located. It will be available for purchase at the concert.

Samonte also will join the orchestra in “Stille Nacht,” the version of “Silent Night” as originally released by the popular recording group “Mannheim Steamroller” as well as excerpts from the “Nutcracker Suite,” and in an audience sing-along of Christmas Carols, ending with Handel's perennial favorite the “Hallelujah Chorus.”

Admission to the concert is $15, with $10 for CLPA members, and young people under 18 free.

For more information contact Conn Murray, 277-7076.


Karen Priest getting ready to belt out a tune. Photo by Joanne Bateni.

LAKEPORT – Cafe Victoria held another in its ongoing series of musical and poetry performances on Dec. 1.

Host Phil Mathewson, performed some original tunes and accompanied other performers on the house piano. Magician Philip Martin did card tricks and local author Alethea Eason read from her children’s science fiction book, “Hungry.”

Guitar players and singers Erv Howell and Frank Vastano came all the way from Lucerne to entertain.

Dick Flowers didn’t need any musical accompaniment as he sang a capella for the appreciative audience.

Karen Priest of the Clear Lake Park Symphony Orchestra sang some of her original tunes while strumming the guitar.

Sue Ricci (Karaoke Sue) and Mathewson sang some Christmas songs to celebrate the season.

Lorna Sue Sides, founder of the Poetry Interlude, recited some of her favorite poems.

There was a full house for this year’s last open mic and nobody wanted it to end.

It will be back next year, same time – 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. – and same day, the first Saturday of the month.


LAKEPORT – Local author and publisher Carolyn Wing Greenlee will give a talk at Watershed books from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7.

Greenlee is founder and president of Earthen Vessel Productions, a Lake County-based publishing company celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2008.

Greenlee will speak on the writing and publishing process and go in-depth and behind the scenes about     bringing some of the books to print.

Originally, Greenlee intended to only publish books on the Chinese-American experience to help keep her people's presence and contributions in the historical record, but she soon found other people's stories too irresistible to ignore.

Working with Lake County museums and the Lake County Historical Society, she began making available out-of-print books on Lake County history. Eventually she authored 10 books, edited and brought to print the poetry of Lake County Poets Laureate Jim Lyle and James BlueWolf, and illustrated BlueWolf's Children's book, "Speaking for Fire.”

Greenlee is a popular featured lecturer and teacher at many historical, cultural and literary events including national conferences for Women Writing the West. In 2000 she received the Artie Award and was awarded the Stars of Lake County Best Professional Artist of 2007.

She was Lake County's Poet Laureate for the years 2004-5 and is an award-winning poet, painter and photographer. Her current work, "Eternal River," covers the generational struggles of a Chinese-American family.

Join Watershed Books for this very special guest, good conversation and scrumptious refreshments.

Watershed Books is located at 305 N. Main Street in Lakeport, telephone 263-5787.



It’s possible to appreciate “The Golden Compass,” a screen adaptation from author Philip Pullman’s book trilogy “His Dark Materials,” for its cinematic tradition of a magical and mystical world not far removed from the “Harry Potter” universe.

On the other hand, the controversy that swirls about Philip Pullman may cast a dark cloud on the whole enterprise. Religious groups voice objections to Pullman’s thematic direction, and even a quick check of the author’s Web site reveals his cynicism about organized religion and skepticism about the existence of God. Rather than resolving the theological questions, let’s look at the movie for what it is.

Frankly, “The Golden Compass” is clearly derived from source material that works better on the written page. From the start, the movie is loaded with a dizzying array of characters with agendas that need to be sorted out with a road map and a set of instructions.

The Magisterium is like a shadow government that seeks to control all of humanity, and of course it is run by some old white guys who look menacing even if they are doing nothing more than greeting a stranger. The unnamed Magisterial Emissary (Derek Jacobi) arches his eyebrows to signal his malice, all the while directing a council that wants to eliminate free will.

The Magisterium takes up the mission to call the work of Lord Asriel (Daniel Craig) heresy, because he embarks on a trip to the Arctic Circle to investigate a mysterious element called Dust, which apparently is a portal to a parallel universe.

Meanwhile, Asriel’s spunky young niece Lyra (Dakota Blue Richards) lives an extraordinary life as a ward of the distinguished Jordan College, where she runs around unsupervised with her best buddy Roger (Ben Walker).

Everywhere she goes, Lyra is accompanied by her “daemon” Pan (voiced by Freddie Highmore), a small animal that changes shapes according to the mood of its human owner. It seems everyone has a “daemon,” which provides not-so-subtle clues about the personality of the owner, though in the case of children, the animal is a volatile and fluid creature.

Lyra’s free reign at Jordan College reaches an abrupt end when certain forces collide. First, thugs from the Magisterium want to shut down the institution because Lord Asriel’s research poses a threat. Then, rumors of the mysterious disappearance of children and their relocation to the remote north become terrifying real when Lyra’s best friend goes missing.

Lyra’s pledge to set forth on a rescue mission looks promising when Marissa Coulter (Nicole Kidman), a beguiling scientist and world traveler, shows up at the college to take Lyra on a trip. Coulter’s true nature should be easily detected by the malevolence of her orange monkey “daemon.”

Soon enough it is clear that Coulter is up to no good. Lyra finds she has been drawn into a trap to take from her the one possession that the Magisterium desperately seeks. The object in question is the Golden Compass, a mystical device that acts as a guide to the future and reveals the truth of all matters.

Breaking free of the evil Mrs. Coulter, Lyra finds protection in a tribe of seafaring Gyptians. Together they form an alliance with mysterious witch Serafina (Eva Green) and Texas airman Scoresby (Sam Elliott), who looks as out of place in this movie as my mother would at a rock concert, but at least he’s a colorful character.

Up in the icy north, it gets even more interesting when the motley band of crusaders acquire a powerful ally in a great armored bear named Iorek (voiced by Ian McKellan), whose pledge to serve to the bitter end takes on real meaning.

Deep into the film’s running time, the payoff comes with pitched battles, one of them involving Iorek in his death match with the evil bear king Ragnar (voiced by Ian McShane).

There’s a great battle of liberation at the Magisterium’s northern outpost where the children are held hostage. At the very least, “The Golden Compass” sparks enough exciting action near the end to rouse anyone from the doldrums.

The knock on this film is that there is too much plot development stuffed into its slightly less than two-hour running time. On the other hand, the visual appeal is enormously satisfying, with special effects powerfully realized. The airship carrying Mrs. Coulter and Lyra to the north looks like a fantastic Jules Verne creation.

But even as its seeks a new direction, “The Golden Compass” relies on many elements cobbled together from films ranging from “Star Wars” to “The Chronicles of Narnia.”


Hong Kong action cinema is always in plentiful supply. Directed by Johnny To, “Exiled,” full of bloody shoot-outs common to the genre, is about a Hong Kong mob boss who sends two killers after a renegade ex-gangster found hiding out in Macau with his wife and baby. In the meantime, two other hard men turn up to intervene, inadvertently sending things into a violent downward spiral.

More news on the martial arts front involves the Christmas Day release of Jackie Chan’s kung fu action comedy “Robin-B-Hood,” which showcases Chan’s trademark acrobatic fighting style and comic timing.

The story follows Chan as an unlucky gambler who resorts to robbery to pay off his debts. His luck gets worse when he and his pals kidnap a baby in exchange for a large ransom, only to become nannies to their captive.

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


“Call me Zits,” the teenage narrator of Sherman Alexie's novel Flight invites us, as his story of a "time-traveling mass murderer" opens. It closes as he tells yet another new foster mother his real name. {sidebar id=42}

There are many echoes here, of Moby Dick, of Maya Angelou, of Peter Pan, of the childhood of King Arthur as told by T. H. White, in which Merlin enables the boy to inhabit the bodies of fish and birds.

Some might call it derivative, but universal also applies, at least for the vast numbers of alienated. Most teens feel alienated, but Zits has more reasons than most. His Indian father never acknowledged him, his Irish mother died when he was 6. He has spent 15 years in foster homes and jails, and a brief time with an aunt whose boyfriend abused him. He's a genuine Lost Boy, whose native intelligence guides him to the few things worth watching on television, where he learns everything he knows about Indians from the History Channel.

A jail encounter with another young man, a Nietzsche-quoting blue-eyed blond anarchist who calls himself Justice, leads him to a bank armed with a paint gun and a .38 Special, and the shooting spree that ensues lands him in a series of violent events. He becomes an Indian child at the Little Bighorn when Custer attacks, an FBI agent at Red River, Idaho, in the 1970s with his memory of the future intact, knowing the ensuing myth of that event is untrue. He befriends and teaches an Arab to fly and is heartbroken when the man crashes a plane into a crowded Chicago street. And finally, his own defeated father.

This is the first novel in 10 years from Alexie, a Spokane/Coeur d'Alene Indian, who grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation in northern Washington. As the only Indian at his high school (except for the school mascot), he excelled academically.

Somewhere he picked up a wonderfully caustic wit, which serves him well as a novelist, poet and screenwriter (Smoke Signals, The Business of Fancydancing and 49?, a 2003 short which has been playing at film festivals.)

He has said "I didn't know I was going to be a funny writer," Alexie says. "I just started writing and people laughed. And at first I was sort of offended. I expected, like many young people, that writing was supposed to be so serious—that if people were laughing it couldn't be serious. But I've learned that humor can be very serious. You know if you have people laughing, you can talk about very difficult subjects. I use it as an aesthetic—I suppose I should say anesthetic—and also to be profane and blasphemous. There's nothing I like more than laughing at other people's idea of the sacred."

Young Adult lit? Sure, I guess. But before you give it to one of those mysterious creatures, read it yourself and come to terms with the fairytale ending.

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


UKIAH – The Mendocino College ceramics program will hold its annual ceramic sale on Friday, Dec. 7 at noon in the gymnasium on the Ukiah campus.

The ceramic sale has been going on for over 20 years and was started by Gary Medina. Medina, who retired in May, started the ceramics program at Mendocino College over 30 years ago.

“The purpose of the sale is for our students to have an opportunity to interact with the public. It reinforces the vocational aspects of the program and gives students opportunities to give back to the community that supports them through the college,” Mendocino College ceramics instructor Doug Browe said.

The sale is student organized and proceeds benefit the ceramics club. Proceeds are used to bring in guest lecturers and support the ceramics program with books, magazines and instructional aides.

Those visiting the sale will not only get to see some impressive work, but also get to meet some of the artists behind the work.
Pottery Valley residents Jerry Irwin and his wife Linda, have been involved with ceramics for 11 years. Jerry, who is a retired game warden, always wanted to work with clay. He and his wife decided they wanted to do something together and pursued classes at the college.

“It is a great learning experience here at Mendocino. We are getting inspiration and we are learning different concepts and different facets. Overall, it is an excellent program with real depth,” Jerry Irwin said.

Originally from New Hampshire, Megan Mitchell has been involved with the Mendocino ceramics program for three years.
Mitchell is applying to graduate school at Ohio University, University of Minnesota and Southern Illinois and is using her time in the program to work on her portfolio.

“I enjoy the community of students, the facilities and resources. It is a good place to try new things. We are fortunate to have this program in this town,” Mitchell said.

Belle Hicks, who lives in Ukiah and has been involved with the program since 2002, has a passion for ceramics and making things.
“This is an excellent program. There are great teachers, a great studio and the visiting artists are outstanding,” Hicks said.

Satoko Barash, who grew up in Japan, has been involved with the program for five years.

Barash mentions that she is getting ideas, inspiration and new teachings through her involvement in the program.

“This is a great program. The professors are very supportive and they really care about our success,” Barash said.
Those involved with the Mendocino College ceramics program all share the passion for ceramics and learning and sharing with other artists.

Individuals are encouraged to come early to the sale, since the popularity of the sale brings out a vast number of people. This is the first time that appetizers will be offered to those waiting in line for the sale.

For more information on the ceramics program or the sale, visit, or contact Browe at (707) 468-1003.


Upcoming Calendar

06.25.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
06.29.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
07.02.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
Independence Day
07.06.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
07.09.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
07.13.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
07.16.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
07.20.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile

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