Saturday, 21 May 2022

Arts & Life

Su­­e Crow Griffin’s photo of bobcats won the 2021 California Wildlife Photograph of the Year award. Image courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Livermore native Su­­e Crow Griffin’s image of affection displayed by a mother bobcat to her offspring along an Alameda County walking path has earned the 2021 grand prize in the 10th annual California Wildlife Photo of the Year contest.

In a virtual celebration today, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, or CDFW, Director Charlton H. Bonham named Griffin’s photograph the best among all entries in the yearlong contest.

The contest is presented by California Watchable Wildlife and CDFW’s Outdoor California magazine and sponsored by the Sierra Nevada Conservancy and Out of This World Optics.

“When you see this image, your jaw will drop,” said Bonham. “What’s special about this particular image is the way it shows emotion. There’s caring here, love and a sense of tenderness. And on top of that, it’s just a super cool photograph.”

California Sen. Steve Glazer (D–Contra Costa) joined Bonham to present Griffin with a Legislative Resolution for her accomplishment. Traditionally the winner’s legislative representative invited him/her to the floor of the California Legislature to announce and honor the winning photo. For the last two years, the presentation has been virtual as a result of pandemic restrictions.

Griffin recalled how she captured the shot. She said the adult bobcat had just called the youngster to her to offer a fresh caught ground squirrel. The pair greeted each other on the limb of a felled tree before the youngster accepted the squirrel and disappeared into the wooded background.

“I know we’re not supposed to put human emotions on the cats, but it was just so tender,” she said. “The mom had brought back the food; the kitten had eaten and then they were sharing some time on this log and then they butted heads — it was just precious.”

Griffin began walking as a way to improve her health and eventually started taking pictures of what she would see on her journeys. Griffin discovered all sorts of wildlife on her daily outings, ranging from bald and golden eagles to coyotes, foxes and a wide variety of birds.

But the bobcats are what did it, she said, noting that she didn’t have any experience with photography before her walks.

Director Bonham selected the grand prize winner from 17 contest finalists. The contest had a record 741 entries this year.

Contest sponsors this week presented the finalists’ entries across social media, offering viewers a chance to see all the top images and build anticipation for today’s announcement. Additionally, the images are currently being showcased in an indoor digital display in the lobby of the new California Natural Resources Building in downtown Sacramento.

In addition to Griffin’s bobcat photograph, the finalists on display include:

• Long-tailed Weasel races across field (Douglas Croft);
• Pacific Forktail Damselfly (Andrew Lincoln);
• Black-tailed Jack rabbit at Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge (Larry Whiting);
• Urbane Digger Bee pollinating in white cosmos (Andrew Lincoln);
• Baldfaced Hornet versus California Yellowjacket (Robin Agarwal);
• Osprey catches morning meal (Douglas Phillips);
• Bald Eagles in the Angeles National Forest (Andrew Lee);
• Yellowed-bellied Marmots in Yosemite National Park (Vishal Subramanyan);
• Coyote leaping for food in Yosemite National Park (Alice Cahill);
• Golden Eagle versus Ground Squirrel (Shravan Sundaram);
• Northern Pygmy Owl in Santa Cruz Mountains (Robin Agarwal);
• Spotted Owls at Golden Gate National Recreation Area (Maximilian Rabbitt Tomita);
• Sea lions at Channel Islands National Park (Ken Howard);
• California Condors at Tejon Ranch (Loi Nguyen);
• White-tailed Kites midair food transfer (Don Henderson);
• Great Gray Owl at Yosemite National Park (Vishal Subramanyan).

In addition to the contest winner, two other photographers received special recognition from sponsors California Watchable Wildlife and Sierra Nevada Conservancy. California Watchable Wildlife chose Alice Cahill’s shot of a leaping coyote as a favorite, while the Sierra Nevada Conservancy picked Vishal Subramanyan’s photo of a pair of Yellowed-bellied Marmots.

Outdoor California and California Watchable Wildlife first sponsored the contest in 2011 as a way to acknowledge photographs that illustrate the diverse wildlife and the viewing experiences found throughout the state’s natural and wild lands. California Watchable Wildlife celebrates the state’s wildlife and diverse habitats by promoting the value of wildlife viewing to individuals, families, communities and industries while fostering awareness of and support for conservation and protection efforts. Outdoor California magazine showcases the work done by CDFW to protect and enhance the wildlife and natural habitat found across the state.

Sierra Nevada Conservancy joined as a contest sponsor after the first year to encourage more representation from a region rich with a diversity of wildlife. The other sponsor, Out of This World Optics, has presented previous winners with high-end outdoor gear, such as high-powered spotting scopes.



‘MUNICH: THE EDGE OF WAR’ Rated PG-13

The historical significance of the Munich Pact, an agreement that briefly averted the outbreak of World War II by acquiescing to the German conquest of Czechoslovakia, results in Sept. 30, 1938 as a day of infamy.

Based on the international best-seller “Munich” by British thriller author Robert Harris, the Netflix original movie “Munich: The Edge of War,” while focused on two young, idealistic diplomats attempting to change history, paints a more nuanced portrait of Neville Chamberlain.

History has mostly judged the British Prime Minister Chamberlain harshly for appeasement of Hitler’s designs on the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia, an area heavily populated with Germans that the Fuhrer wanted to absorb into the Reich.

Here, the drama of international diplomacy offers a revisionist perspective on Chamberlain (Jeremy Irons) as desperately trying to avoid another ruinous world war that the Allies were either unwilling or ill-prepared to engage.

Most telling, perhaps, is how Chamberlain is received as a hero on his return to Britain as the memories of the slaughter of the Great War were not-so-distant to his countrymen. The British public’s desire to avoid war was almost universal.

Was the British Prime Minister truly naïve about Hitler’s intentions? He lectures an aide about “political reality,” but to what end? Did Chamberlain negotiate a tenuous peace with Hitler to buy more time before the inevitable?

Putting aside all notions of a nonfiction recap of the peace conference involving Britain and France joining with Hitler and his fascist counterpart in Italy, “Munich: The Edge of War” is foremost a drama of two fictional diplomats on opposite sides in a geopolitical tragedy.

The story begins in 1932 at Oxford University where Hugh Legat (George MacKay) and his German friend and fellow student Paul von Hartman (Jannis Niewohner) have a falling-out at graduation time over the latter’s infatuation with the “new Germany.”

Fast forward six years, and Hugh works in the British foreign office and as an aide to the prime minister, while Paul is a press secretary to the Fuhrer (Ulrich Matthes) and romantically involved with Helen Winter (Sandra Huller), the ex-wife of a German general.

The significance of Paul’s relationship with an older paramour is that they both belong to a secret anti-Hitler resistance group that realizes the leader of the Third Reich is a dangerous madman who must be stopped.

No longer enamored with Hitler’s vision of restoring Germany’s glory, Paul is eager to provide purloined documentation of the Fuhrer’s plan to conquer all of Europe to acquire “living space” to his British counterpart.

As Hugh is part of the British delegation that arrives in Munich for the peace conference, Paul reconnects with his former university chum to enlist his help to attempt to dissuade Chamberlain from agreeing to Hitler’s designs on the Sudetenland.

With Paul on shaky ground under the suspicious, prying eyes of Nazi officer Franz Sauer (August Diehl), the head of Hitler’s security detail, it’s obvious the German diplomat has more at stake and a lot to lose with his clandestine activities.

While Paul comes off as more reckless than his British colleague, raising his voice in places where German officials could easily overhear his rants, Hugh is more tight-lipped with typical British reserve.

Separately, Hugh and Paul deal with their respective leaders with a measure of guarded caution. Chamberlain cares little to consider dissenting views. Hitler is sufficiently mercurial and unstable that Paul or anyone for that matter is nervous in his presence.

While “Munich: The Edge of War” fascinates with the “what-if” scenario of a plot to thwart Hitler’s crazed ambitions, the bigger picture is to know that even to this day historians may quibble and debate about the motivations of political leaders of the time.

The French Prime Minister Edouard Daladier (Stephane Boucher) was part of the Munich conference but his thought process is not revealed and that’s partly due to how his presence is like an afterthought. Was he in fact concerned and aware of the folly of capitulation to Hitler?

On the matter of appeasement, Neville Chamberlain is unlikely to ever escape being the poster boy of appeasement for his diplomatic concession of territory to an aggressive power in order to avoid conflict.

After the Munich conference, Chamberlain announced with misguided confidence that he had secured “peace in our time.” We know only too well how that turned out as hardly a year had passed after the Munich agreement before Germany invaded Poland.

The trajectory of World War II is sure to remain debated for years to come. As for the Munich Pact, was it possible that Germany was so strong that Britain needed to buy more time to prepare for its defense against the Luftwaffe’s intense bombing campaign two years later?

There is much for history buffs to consider about actual events, but as for entertainment value “Munich: The Edge of War” creates plenty of riveting, tense and poignant moments for the two imagined diplomats navigating the treacherous domain of political intrigue.

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



‘THE 355’ RATED PG-13

What’s up with the title of “The 355?” It’s a nod to the historical significance of espionage in the foundation of our country that most of us never heard about during school.

During the Revolutionary War, a real-life female spy, known only by the code name 355, played a pivotal role in George Washington’s Culper Spy Ring, helping to convey vital information about British troop movements.

A fair assumption is that our first president’s spy was likely not as glamorous as the spies in “The 355,” but then Washington’s agent was not infiltrating an opulent auction house of fine art in Shanghai in search of a top-secret weapon on the black market.

In “The 355,” it takes a quintet of attractive, diverse women from all corners of the globe to work in concert against nefarious forces led by cutthroat mercenary Elijah Clarke (Jason Flemyng).

Wild card CIA agent Mace (Jessica Chastain) and her colleague Nick (Sebastian Stan) go undercover as a couple honeymooning in Paris on a mission to rendezvous with a contact, Luis (Edgar Ramirez), at a local cafe to obtain a backpack containing a data key to unlock any closed system.

This operation goes sideways when skilled German agent Marie (Diane Kruger) makes off with the asset and a panicked Luis flees the scene. As Nick pursues him, Mace chases after Marie.

As Mace leaps across restaurant tables and hurtles past onlookers to retrieve the item, Marie speeds through a crowded pedestrian arcade on a stolen motorbike. The chase ends up in the Metro tunnels where they must dodge speeding subway trains.

Ultimately, the data key eludes both Mace and Marie, forcing Mace to go off the grid, while realizing she’ll need a team with diverse skills to succeed. Enter Mace’s old MI6 ally Khadijah (Lupita Nyong’o) and Columbian intelligence therapist Graciela (Penelope Cruz).

The eventual fifth member to join forces with the United Nations of spies is the enigmatic Lin Mi Sheng (Bingbing Fan), who had been secretly monitoring their moves.

“The 355” boils down to badass women on a lethal, breakneck mission around the globe engaged in plenty of action to satisfy most fans of the spy genre. But Charlize Theron was the toughest of them all in “Atomic Blonde.”

FOX WINTER TV

In the world of television, things seem to be getting closer to normal when a network is able to launch several new midseason series that are not all reality programming.

Such is the case with the FOX network’s new scripted series, one of which is “The Cleaning Lady,” an emotionally driven character drama about a smart Cambodian doctor who comes to America for a medical treatment to save her son.

Failed by the system and pushed into hiding, the doctor (Elodie Yung), refusing to be marginalized, becomes a cleaning lady for organized crime, using her cunning and intelligence to forge her own path in the criminal underworld.

On a premise that sounds more serious, the new comedy “Pivoting,” airing in a time slot after the second season of “Call Me Kat,” follows three women as they cope with the death of the fourth member of their close-knit group of childhood friends.

Eliza Coupe, Maggie Q and Ginnifer Goodwin, faced with the reality that life is short, pivot and alter their current paths, by way of a series of impulsive, ill-advised and self-indulgent decisions.

For Amy (Eliza Coupe), the fearless producer of a cooking show managing a hundred employees, is absolutely flummoxed when it comes to caring for her own children. Her pivot is to be a more active, present mother.

Ginnifer Goodwin’s Jodie is a stay-at-home mom of three in a loveless marriage, and her turn means getting in shape and maybe more with her hot 27-year old trainer Matt (JT Neal), who gives her attention and excitement she didn’t realize that she craved.

For Maggie Q’s successful doctor Sarah, the loss of their friend is compounded by the recent divorce from her wife. After a life filled with stress, Sarah is sent into a tailspin and pivots to a simpler, happier life working as a grocery store employee.

Debuting with a special two-night event immediately following the NFC Championship game on Sunday, January 30, “Monarch” is an epic, multi-generational musical drama about America’s first family of country music.

Starring Susan Sarandon, Trace Adkins and Anna Friel, the Romans are passionate and fiercely talented, but while their name is synonymous with honesty, the very foundation of the family’s success is a lie.

When dangerous truths bubble to the surface, the Romans’ reign as country royalty is put in jeopardy. Nicky Roman (Friel), the heir to the crown, already battling an industry and world stacked against her, will stop at nothing to protect her family’s legacy.

The idea of conflict in the world of country music has been played for a soap opera before, probably most notably with last decade’s series “Nashville” that ran on ABC before finishing its run on CMT.

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

Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

Like music, one supposes, food, the memory of its procuring, preparing and consuming, leaves an indelible mark on us that is visceral and easily stirred.

We all must eat, and so we all know our own private litany of foods of our childhood.

Susan Nguyen calls her poem an “Ode to Hunger,” reminding us that the line between satiation and need is so thin, and sometimes sits at the heart of what many of us remember about the insecurities of our food supply.

Which is why her ode to hunger is a praise song to the food that defeats hunger: the simple humble foods of our sustenance.

Ode to Hunger
By Susan Nguyen

Praise SPAM fried with fish sauce and sugar
jackfruit, 25lbs. of it carved on newspaper, latex sap sticking fingers
Praise Kraft mac and cheese: small miracle of powdered cheddar
pork floss in the big Tupperware
Sara Lee Praise soy sauce and rice
Shrimp Cup Noodles, 3 minutes ‘til done
Praise the soft insides of baguettes
the first star fruit, pocketed and sliced
to Chef Boyardee
to durian, sweet scent of garbage
to pickled mustard greens, Lean Cuisine
pizza bagels after school
Praise Women, Infants, and Children
banana blossoms, heart thinly sliced in vinegar, drained of all color


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 ©2021 by Susan Nguyen, “Ode to Hunger” from Dear Diaspora, (University of Nebraska Press, 2021). Poem reprinted by permission of the author and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2022 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.

More and more, poets, like everyone else, are confronted with the news and physical evidence of change in our weather patterns and landscapes, and we find ourselves trying to find language for this unsettling sense that the world is changing rapidly.

Khadijah Queen, in her poem, “Undoing,” has a haunting sense while driving through a snowstorm, that somehow our machines and our voracious appetite for fuel have something to do with this “undoing” of our world.

Like many of us, she is arrested by this knowing. Poetry does not always give us answers, instead, it helps us meditate on the questions, and this, sometimes, is enough.

Undoing
By Khadijah Queen

In winter traffic, fog of midday
shoves toward our machines—snow eclipses
the mountainscapes
I drive toward, keeping time against
the urge to quit moving. I refuse to not
know how not to, wrestling
out loud to music, as hovering me—automatic
engine, watching miles of sky on the fall—loves such
undoing, secretly, adding fuel to
what undoes the ozone, the endless nothing
manifested as sinkholes under permafrost.
Refusal, indecision—an arctic
undoing of us, interrupting cascades—
icy existences. I cannot drive through.


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 ©2021 by Khadijah Queen, “Undoing” from Poem-a-Day (Academy of American Poets, 2021). Poem reprinted by permission of the author and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2022 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.

An illustration of Rita Hosking. Courtesy image.

UPPER LAKE, Calif. — Rita Hosking, one of Northern California’s leading country-folk singer songwriters, will be featured on Sunday, Jan. 23, as part of the Tallman Hotel’s 2022 series of “Concerts with Conversation.”

Hosking’s guitar and vocals will be backed by Sean Feder on banjo and dobro guitar.

Beginning at 3 p.m., this informal concert will take place in the beautiful Meeting House next to the Tallman Hotel in Upper Lake.

Owner Bernie Butcher points out that all precautions have been taken to assure a safe and relaxing afternoon of music.

“We’ve reduced the seating capacity to 25 this year,” he said, “to assure social distancing. Ventilation and air purification systems have been upgraded and all musicians and patrons must show proof of vaccination.”

A descendant of Cornish miners, Hosking grew up with a deep regard for folk music and the power of the voice.

In song and story, she shares with the audience her upbringing in rural Shasta County and the old-time band of seasoned mountain characters that shaped her musically.

“We’ve played the Tallman concert series a couple of times in the past,” she said, “and the intimate setting is one of our favorites. Both Sean and I are really looking forward to performing there again with some of our new material.”

Hosking’s songs have been lauded for story and sense of place. Her third album, called “Come Sunrise,” won Best Country Album Vox Pop at the 2010 Independent Music awards.

At $30 plus tax, the price of admission includes coffee and cookies served at the concert venue.

Tickets can be obtained online at Eventbrite.com or by calling at the Tallman Hotel reception desk at 707-275-2244, Extension 0.

Upcoming Calendar

23May
05.23.2022 5:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Lake County 29'ers Cribbage Club Meeting
23May
05.23.2022 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Scotts Valley Advisory Council
24May
05.24.2022 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Rotary Club of Clear Lake
25May
05.25.2022 9:00 am - 1:00 pm
Annual invasive weed tour
26May
05.26.2022 7:30 am - 8:30 am
Rotary Club of Middletown
28May
28May
05.28.2022 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Cobb Estate Sale
28May
05.28.2022 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Steele
28May
05.28.2022 10:00 am - 2:00 pm
Rodman Preserve public hours
29May
05.29.2022 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Cobb Estate Sale

Mini Calendar

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