Monday, 25 October 2021

Arts & Life

Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

It is reassuring to know that other dog-owners struggle with the strange way in which we project our humanity on animals and ignore the implications of such an “unnatural” act.

Nikki Wallschlaeger’s new collection Waterbaby is packed with such familiar conundrums.

All Dogs Go to Heaven
By Nikki Wallschlaeger
Beloved, we call you brave
hoping the limit
for human reign is terminal,
your rehabilitation to be
dangerously free. Inside
your paws longings twinge
while you sleep. I awake
because you are newborn,
a terrifying responsibility
I’ll be human to you, lead
you on a leash, hate myself
for it, holler when you run
down the road when I let
you go. The truth is I love
watching you trot away
from me: you look like
yourself, whoever that is,
natural dog engaging in
an unnatural world making
stops to rebury your bones,
doing what dogs are allowed
to do, without me.


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 Nikki Wallschlaeger, “All Dogs Go to Heaven” from Waterbaby, (Copper Canyon Press, 2020). Poem reprinted by permission of Permissions Company, LLC and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2021 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.

Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

In this typ­i­cal­ly plain-spo­ken poem by North Car­oli­na poet, Ter­ri Kir­by Erick­son, from her new col­lec­tion, “A Sun Inside my Chest,” there is, hum­ming below the still sur­face of lan­guage, a rich pulse of hope, of every­day sur­vival — a body’s defi­ance that she cap­tures in that final image.

New Bathing Suit
By Ter­ri Kir­by Erick­son

My friend is wearing her new black bathing suit.
It came with the proper cups, made to fill
with one breast and the memory
of another—which is not to say emptiness—
but the fullness that comes to us, with sacrifice.
There is no one more alive than she is now,
floating like a lotus or swimming, lap after lap,
parting the turquoise, chlorine-scented water,
her arms as sturdy as wooden paddles.
And when she pulls herself from the pool,
her new suit dripping—the pulse is so strong
in her wrists and throat, a little bird
outside the window will hear it, begin to flap
its wings to the beat of her heart.


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 Terri Kirby Erickson, “New Bathing Suit” from A Sun Inside my Chest, (Press 53, 2020). Poem reprinted by permission of Permissions Company, LLC and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2021 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.

Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

I am a lit­tle embar­rassed by this poem because recent­ly, I asked my sis­ter in Jamaica if she knew where our father’s ash­es were.

We chuck­led at how we were still fail­ing our beloved father forty years after his death.

There is a vein of the same refresh­ing macabre humor in Kath­leen McGookey​’s poem, ​“The Box” — the way a crock­pot reminds her both of her fail­ure as a daugh­ter and her affec­tion for her parents.

The Box
By Kath­leen McGookey
My parents’ ashes are still in a cardboard box on the metal shelves in my basement. It’s not all their ashes, just my share. They left instructions, but no deadline: when the dogwood blooms, on that trail near the pines. Sometimes I feel a slight pang—is keeping them like this undignified? Disrespectful? But then I forget them until I need the crockpot, and there it is, the little box, heavy for its size, labeled in my writing, next to my daughter’s baby clothes. I haven’t held it since we moved ten years ago. But I might. I could.

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 Kathleen McGookey, “The Box” from Copper Nickle 31 & 2 (Fall 2020.) Poem reprinted by permission of the author and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2021 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.



‘THE ICE ROAD’ RATED PG-13 ON NETFLIX

Befitting his status as the B-movie action hero, the latest Liam Neeson adventure thriller actually has a rating, but “The Ice Road” would really qualify as a straight-to-video film.

Enter Netflix, a streaming service that arguably has a fondness for entertainments in this genre, to deliver since the studio pipeline to local cinemas at this point in time is not back up to pre-COVID glory days.

In a nutshell, the premise of “The Ice Road” can be deduced from the opening credit sequence which informs the viewer that 65,000-pound trucks traversing frozen lakes and rivers can be dangerous and result in fatalities.

Also noted in the credits is this kicker: “Some drivers describe (these treks) as suicide missions.” Right away, we know the stakes are going to be high for traveling on the ice roads.

OK, who’s either crazy or incredibly brave enough to take on this driving assignment? Well, this is a Liam Neeson movie after all. Three guesses and the first two don’t count.

As it happens, Liam Neeson’s long-haul driver Mike McCann and his brother Gurty (Marcus Thomas), a skilled mechanic and war veteran suffering PTSD and aphasia, are based in North Dakota and looking for work in Canada.

An explosion at a diamond mine in northern Manitoba traps about two dozen miners underground. A rescue mission must be accomplished within 30 hours due to the limited supply of oxygen, but the site is remote and hard to access.

The heavy equipment needed to save the miners can’t be airlifted, and spring weather is making thinning ice roads even more precarious to travel. A convoy of three rigs will be needed for the sake of redundancy, allowing for at least one truck to make it all the way.

Expedition organizer Jim Goldenrod (Laurence Fishburne) needs a crew yesterday, so he takes on the team of Mike and Gurty and posts bail for rebellious young Native activist Tantoo (Amber Midthunder), whose brother is one of the trapped miners.

Along for the ride is the mining company’s actuary (Benjamin Walker), an obnoxious fellow who may have more on his mind than crunching the numbers for an insurance risk analysis.

Tension on the road trip comes from racing against the clock with suspected sabotage of an engine, perilous frozen cracks, rippling sheets of ice, a storm and an avalanche.

A conspiracy is afoot that may or may not be fully revealed or understood. The trapped miners bicker over the idea of thinning the herd to conserve a dwindling oxygen supply. Some people turn out not to be who you thought they were.

With the help of some mercenaries, the corporate bad guys prove to be even worse than thought possible. A key player is also unjustly maligned before becoming a key asset at a critical juncture in the mission’s journey.

Liam Neeson is still working at being the oldest actor taking the tough guy roles, whether in a B-movie or not. Though “The Ice Road” is far from one of the better films in the action genre, it’s not an altogether misfire.

RANDOM TV PREVIEW

Netflix announced it’s working on an untitled workplace comedy series inspired by the front office of the Los Angeles Lakers, an iconic franchise with 17 NBA championships to its credit.

Jeanie Buss, owner of the team that she inherited from her father Jerry Buss, famously posed for Playboy back in 1995 as a younger sports executive in the front office.

Since this series is inspired by the personal and professional dynamic between the family owners and front office team, will the fictional team governor Eliza Reed navigating NBA ownership and family drama have to deal with lingering fallout from posing in the buff?

Will the front office deal with the poor sportsmanship often displayed by the team’s superstar LeBron James? Is there room for satire of a player who leaves his team hanging with almost six minutes to go in a crucial playoff game?

AMC Networks announced that it has greenlit Anne Rice’s “Interview with the Vampires” as a new series for AMC+ and AMC based on the bestselling novel that will premiere next year.

In a major acquisition, the company acquired the rights to Rice’s iconic works, encompassing 18 titles including the “Vampire Chronicles” and “Mayfair Witches” series.

Rice’s first novel “Interview with the Vampire,” in which Lestat was the central character, was nearly two decades later turned into a movie of the same name with Tom Cruise as the French aristocratic vampire.

The Anne Rice fan base is massive, and the fact that the famed author and her son Christopher Rice will serve as executive producers on all series and films should draw interest to AMC’s ambitious plans.

AMC has scored a coup with holding the rights for the world renowned and globally coveted intellectual property to develop its own Anne Rice franchise. Together, the “Vampire Chronicles and the “Mayfair” book series have sold more than 150 million copies worldwide.

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



‘F9: THE FAST SAGA’ RATED PG-13

The “Fast & Furious” franchise has been running for twenty years, and if it were not for the “F9: The Fast Saga” title, one could easily lose count of its number of installments.

“Fast & Furious Present: Hobbs & Shaw,” a spin-off film, does not count for the franchise, otherwise we would be watching “F10.” Yet, keep an eye out here for one of its protagonists.

“F9” opens with Vin Diesel’s Dom Toretto living the quiet life on a farm with Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and his son, little Brian. Fans should not worry that Dom’s past of danger and driving fast cars is behind him.

In less time than it takes Dom to go from zero to 60 mph, Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) show up with news that CIA mastermind Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) has been captured after a plane crash.

Entering the mix of bad guys plotting world domination with the theft of a secret device that is part of Project Ares that could destroy the security systems of all nations is Dom’s forsaken brother Jakob (John Cena).

Part of the reason for the film’s nearly two-and-a-half hours length are the numerous flashbacks to Dom’s uneasy childhood, the reasons for the sibling rivalry and the fiery death of the father. The Toretto family has its own soap opera.

A more odious villain is a rich Eurotrash psycho named Otto (Thue Ersted Rasmussen). The villainous Cipher (Charlize Theron), spending most of her time in a plexiglass cage, figures into the plot.

Not to be overlooked is Helen Mirren’s Queenie, showing up to take Dom on a fast spin through London streets.

If you’ve ever wondered if a Pontiac Fiero could be outfitted with rockets and hurtled into space with Roman and Tej as humorously bickering astronauts, then you probably know the answer either from watching the trailer or knowing that nothing can be too far-fetched.

Coming right to the point, “F9” has little to do with any confusing storylines and plot holes or the characters; it’s all about over-the-top action sequences with an incredibly high toll of vehicles destroyed in spectacular fashion.

All in all, “F9” is mindless fun to be enjoyed by an audience that will care absolutely not in the least whatever negativity emanates from high-brow critics. This escapist fare will be gleefully savored for all its exciting thrills.



‘BOSCH’ ON AMAZON PRIME VIDEO

One of the best police procedurals is only getting better in its seventh and final season on Amazon Prime Video. In “Bosch,” Titus Welliver returns in the eponymous role of Los Angeles Police detective Harry Bosch.

Working out of the Hollywood Homicide division, Bosch has seen it all but what disturbs him the most is any vile and horrific mistreatment of children, including grisly abuse, sex trafficking and murder.

Going by his credo of “Everybody counts or nobody counts,” Bosch becomes obsessed with the investigation of an apartment building arson fire when a ten-year-old girl dies along with her mother and other family members.

An irreverent detective who often has a problem with authority, Bosch follows his instincts and willingly bends a few rules in pursuit of justice, particularly for the most vulnerable victims.

At his desk in the police station, Bosch keeps photos of kids either missing or dead in cases that remain unsolved. The pictures are a reminder that the stoic detective will keep plodding along even if he has to clash with bureaucratic obstacles.

The arson fire was caused by a Molotov cocktail tossed into the apartment building by a local gang, and when Bosch and his partner Jerry Edgar (Jamie Hector) investigate they find themselves in a possible conflict with an FBI probe.

Several subplots run throughout the season. Bosch’s daughter Maddie (Madison Lintz) is still interning with defense lawyer Honey “Money” Chandler (Mimi Rogers) on a case that takes a dangerous turn.

The Hollywood division’s Lt. Grace Billets (Amy Aquino) endures the treachery of office politics and a workplace harassment campaign seemingly orchestrated by a pair of sexist beat cops.

Chief of Police Irvin Irving (Lance Reddick) faces a threat to his career from a hostile new mayor, and with the dynamics on a Police Commission subject to political pressure, does the Chief have any leverage to win another term?

What matters most and holds the greatest interest in this last season is how dogged Bosch becomes to bring justice for the young arson victim regardless of whatever the cost may be to his position at LAPD.

Since it’s been widely announced that the “Bosch” series will have a spin-off show on Amazon’s free streaming service IMDb TV, there’s good reason for viewers to hang in during the last episode when the screen goes dark.

Previous seasons had ten episodes, so it’s a shame this last one only has eight. Savor every moment of “Bosch” and marvel at how good a television series can be with the right cast, script and production.

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




‘KEVIN CAN F**K HIMSELF’ ON AMC

The shopworn premise of the sitcom that involves a loutish husband with a beautiful, long-suffering wife has been a staple of network television forever, but AMC network’s “Kevin Can F**K Himself” turns that on its ear.

In style alone, this series differs from tradition as it alternates between multi-camera sitcom (complete with laugh track) and single-camera drama when the focus is on the beleaguered wife’s simmering despair.

While the husband in this new series, Kevin McRoberts (Eric Petersen), is a jackass man-child, his wife Allison (Annie Murphy) becomes increasingly desperate to escape from a marriage that seems to have doomed her to a life of servitude.

In the blue-collar McRoberts household, Kevin is a cable guy whose aspiration is to move into fiber optics, while Allison works at a liquor store and dreams of becoming a homeowner in a better neighborhood.

At their home in Worcester, Massachusetts, Kevin is so obsessed with Boston sports teams that he auditions candidates for a Tom Brady look-alike for an anniversary party and hangs out all the time with his dimwitted best friend Neil (Alex Bonifer) and his dad (Brian Howe).

Joining the men for much of the time spent in the McRoberts living room and kitchen is Neil’s hairstylist sister Patty (Mary Hollis Inboden), who seems more tolerant of the Neanderthal men.

The tone of the series takes a darker turn when Allison is alone, either at home or wandering around town and going to work. Acquiescence to Kevin’s whims and reckless choices is replaced by acts of defiance and expressions of seething rage.

Learning from Patty that Kevin has depleted her savings account and lied about their finances, Allison begins to plot revenge that is either wishful thinking or could lead down into a very dangerous rabbit hole.

“Kevin Can F**K Himself,” much like the show’s racy title, is outside the norm of a comedy centered on the oafish husband and the perfect housewife; it’s more like social commentary on how a scorned wife can deliver the middle finger to convention.

NBC FALL TV REVIEW

Information about the upcoming NBC fall season remains less than complete in its details, and maybe we can blame that on the pandemic as one more reason the natural order of things has been upended.

Looking at the fall schedule, if it were not for legendary television producer Dick Wolf, who has created enough franchises for more than one network, NBC would have a gaping hole in its weekly lineup.

Wolf’s “Law & Order” franchise, with its 30-year history, is the most successful brand in television. Thursday nights will run “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and “Law & Order: Organized Crime,” with “Law & Order: For the Defense” joining as the newest entry.

“For the Defense” takes an unflinching look inside a criminal defense firm. The series will put the lawyers – and the criminal justice system – under the microscope like only “Law & Order” can, delivering hard-hitting stories that provide a new vantage point on justice.

A massive sinkhole in Los Angeles that pulls hundreds of people and buildings into an abyss is the premise for “La Brea,” where the victims find themselves in a perilous and mystifying primeval land.

While the rest of the world is trying to solve the mystery of this catastrophe, one family that is torn apart by separating mother and son from father and daughter will have to figure out where they are and how to get back home.

Life is a series of choices, some good, some bad and others that could go either way. The heart-warming drama “Ordinary Joe” explores the three parallel lives of the main character (James Wolk) after he makes a pivotal choice at a crossroads in his life.

“Ordinary Joe” poses the question of how different life might look if you made your decision based on love, loyalty, or passion. We don’t know if the series would expect the audience to ponder their own choices, but maybe it will stimulate some self-reflection.

For decades, NBC ran a comedy block on Thursday nights, but come this fall not only are Thursdays now in the Dick Wolf drama orbit but the network will not be filling any other nights with comedy series.

Does this mean comedy is DOA at NBC? Not at all. The laughs are on hold until the midseason, at which time “Mr. Mayor,” “Kenan,” and “Young Rock” are expected to return. As a bonus, the final season of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” drops after the flame goes out on the Summer Olympics.

One new midseason series is the workplace comedy “American Auto,” where the executives at a Detroit automotive company flounder as they try to rediscover the company identity amidst a rapidly changing industry.

The aptly named “Ground Crew” is an ensemble comedy about a group of young Black friends trying to navigate the ups and downs of life and love in Los Angeles while spending a lot of time at their favorite wine bar.

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

Upcoming Calendar

26Oct
10.26.2021 9:00 am - 12:00 pm
Board of Supervisors
26Oct
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Rotary Club of Clear Lake
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30Oct
10.30.2021 9:00 am - 12:00 pm
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