Saturday, 04 December 2021

Arts & Life

Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

Sometimes defining what we mean by love causes us to fumble around, until we find the right language, or, as in this case, the perfect lived image that captures it all.

Tyree Daye does this here in his poem, “Ode to the Common Clothes Moth”, which is truly an elegant ode to his love for De Lissa.

Ode to the Common Clothes Moth
By Tyree Daye

In these days of less and less sun your love points and I follow
like the blind moths you beg me not to kill
half-asleep and the sun lesser than a minute before
I’ll let you go into the night and you say and I follow your love
of winged things to the back door
watch you empty your hands into the sky

In the morning you will wake before me
and walk out into the yard
the sun acts like a father as if it never left
moths sing of you from wherever
moths go to sing


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 ©2016 by Tyree Daye, “Ode to The Common Clothes Moth” from Cardinal, (Copper Canyon Press 2016). 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.

Lake County’s Clovice Lewis. Photo by Nathan DeHart.

MIDDLETOWN, Calif. — California Humanities has announced the recent round of Humanities For All Quick Grant awards.

The Middletown Art Center, or MAC, a project of EcoArts of Lake County, has been awarded $5,000 for its project, “Sounds of Liberation: Race and Music in Lake County.”

The Humanities For All Quick Grant is a competitive grant program of California Humanities that supports locally-initiated public humanities projects that respond to the needs and interests of Californians, encourage greater public participation in humanities programming, particularly by new and/or underserved audiences, and promotes understanding and empathy among all our state’s peoples in order to cultivate a thriving democracy.

Sounds of Liberation is a series of intimate conversations and performances with Black musicians living in rural Northern California about their responses to sweeping social events throughout their careers.

Sounds of Liberation uplifts a hopeful vision of racial harmony and social change. Host and co-organizer Clovice Lewis, an African-American composer living in Upper Lake, said, “We invite all our neighbors to join us on a journey to raise awareness and understanding.”

Lewis connected with MAC’s director, Lisa Kaplan, at a gathering of the “Community Call to Action: A loving response to systemic racism in America,” a self-organized local action group formed by the Unitarian Universalist Community of Lake County, and Sounds of Liberation was conceived a few weeks later. It is now set to launch in mid-June.

“These projects will bring the complexity and diversity of California to light in new ways that will engage Californians from every part of our state, and will help us all understand each other better,” said Julie Fry, president and CEO of California Humanities. “We congratulate the grantees whose projects will promote understanding and provide insight into a wide range of topics, issues, and experiences.”

Learn about Sounds of Liberation at www.middletownartcenter.org/sounds-of-liberation.html.

For a complete list of all Humanities For All Quick Grants, check out the www.calhum.org.



‘HACKS’ ON HBO MAX

Remembering the late comedian Joan Rivers, known for an acerbic persona and self-deprecating humor, might be the best option for understanding the modus operandi of Jean Smart’s aging comic Deborah Vance in the HBO Max series “Hacks.”

In this 10-episode series, Deborah has thrived in a long career as a headliner in Las Vegas, the main draw at the Palmetto Casino where smug owner Marty (Christopher McDonald) now decides to give her coveted weekend nights to a youth-oriented pop group.

Softening the blow to her ego for losing the prime spot, the casino boss tells Deborah that Las Vegas will be designating a street in her name, to which she replies that it will “probably be a dead-end with an abortion clinic on it.”

A savvy businesswoman, Deborah, who once was the first female host of a late night TV show much like Joan Rivers, shares other similarities beyond stand-up routines, such as hawking merchandise on the QVC shopping channel. Deborah even shills for a pizzeria chain at a grand opening.

Meanwhile in Los Angeles, millennial comedy writer Ava (Hannah Einbinder) may also be facing the sunset of a once budding career when she gets “canceled” for a joke tweet about the hypocrisy of a closeted senator.

Feeling entitled like so many of her peers, the self-absorbed Ava embarks on self-destructive behavior that includes an awkward intrusion into a former colleague’s lunch meeting to ask for work and a later gratuitous hookup with a delivery man.

Ava shares the same agent Jimmy (Paul W. Downs) with the Vegas diva, and he comes up with the bright idea to send his young client on a trip to Sin City for a meeting with Deborah, which doesn’t go well at all.

And yet, after barbs and insults are hurled between two comedians with an obvious generational gap, Deborah comes to realize in a moment of pragmatism that some tired old material might need a jolt of new energy.

Thus, with Ava taking up residency at a casino, the two disparate comedians on the opposite ends of a work ethic (Deborah had to fight to reach the pinnacle of success, while Ava feels the reward should come easy) embark on a rollercoaster journey.

Above all else, “Hacks,” an insightful comedy with biting sarcasm and a touch of humanity, is a showcase for the talents of its leading ladies, with Jean Smart especially shining more brightly than the Vegas neon.



‘MIKE TYSON: THE KNOCKOUT’ ON ABC

What do we know about former heavyweight champion boxer Mike Tyson that might draw our interest to a four-hour documentary series over two nights in “Mike Tyson: The Knockout,” scheduled for May 25 and June 1 on ABC?

For one, you wouldn’t want to get in the ring with him, even now at his ripe middle age. We may learn how this ferocious fighter who won his first 19 professional fights by knockout acquired the reputation of “The Baddest Man on the Planet.”

We may remember many things that cast an unfavorable light on his character, including a nasty split with Robin Givens with an allegation of spousal abuse, a conviction of rape resulting in a prison stint, and biting off a piece of boxer Evander Holyfield’s ear.

The first episode begins with Tyson’s youth and his transition from a bullied kid who discovers his true power, which becomes the basis for the icon’s standing for knockout power and intimidation of opponents.

Former trainers describe Tyson’s time in and out of juvenile detention during the time legendary trainer Cus D’Amato guided the young boy from Brooklyn to the edge of his boxing dream of heavyweight champion of the world.

Erstwhile opponents Michael Spinks and Buster Douglas sit down for interviews and discuss their fights against Tyson, including Tyson’s win over Sparks to become the undisputed champion and Tyson’s shocking first professional loss to Douglas who was a 42-to-1 underdog.

The second episode continues with Tyson’s conviction and prison sentence for raping 18-year-old Desiree Washington, reviewing the cultural conversation that ensued throughout the trial as the public grappled with ideas of victimization and the fall of a hero.

Tyson’s defense attorney James Voyles and special prosecutor Greg Garrison reflect on the trial nearly 20 years later. Tyson’s release from prison and his highly anticipated and celebrated reentry into society are examined.

“Mike Tyson: The Knockout” puts viewers ringside for a main event that chronicles the former champion’s climb, crash and comeback, and an ABC press release touts that this primetime event “will examine some of the most pressing questions about resilience and reinvention.”

Executive producer Geoffrey Fletcher claims that “in addition to being an inspiring story of the perseverance and hard-won growth of one extraordinary person, Mike Tyson’s life and career are also relevant to the important collective self-reflection finally occurring in America.”

A bit of puffery may seep into the production team’s assessment of this documentary’s import, and so any final judgment must rest until we see for ourselves.

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




‘ARMY OF THE DEAD’ RATED R

Available in both movie theaters and the Netflix streaming service, “Army of the Dead” sounds like the work of filmmaker George A. Romero (“Night of the Living Dead”), but that would be a neat trick since he passed away nearly four years ago.

Taking up the mantle of mimicking Romero’s body of work, Zack Snyder, who did a remake of the master’s “Dawn of the Dead” in 2004, takes an aggressive approach to the genre in “Army of the Dead,” where zombie heads are like targets in a carnival shooting gallery.

The setting is Las Vegas, not in the way you may remember it from your last visit. It’s a walled-off city where the iconic welcome sign has been trashed and replaced by a notice that constitutional law does not apply.

No Bill of Rights protects the zombies. The president has announced that Sin City will soon be annihilated Hiroshima-style. But, first casino tycoon Tanaka (Hiroyuki Sanada) wants a team of mercenaries to pull off a heist of $200 million in his casino’s vault.

For the job, he recruits fearsome Scott Ward (Dave Bautista), once a decorated soldier who rescued a high-ranking official from zombies but now a fry cook, to head up a team, with military sidekicks Maria Cruz (Ana de la Reguera) and Vanderohe (Omari Hardwick).

Part of the team consists of nervous German safecracker Dieter (Matthias Schweighofer) and wise-cracking, cigar-chomping helicopter pilot Marianne (Tig Notaro), who’s great for some comic relief.

There’s also the coyote Lilly (Nora Arnezeder), signed up to help the crew sneak into the undead zone, and Tanaka’s insider Martin (Garret Dillahunt), a man with a secret plan who is distrusted by all the other mercenaries.

At two-and-a-half hours long, “Army of the Dead” needs some serious editing to trim the periods that drag a bit or even to shorten the seemingly endless sequences of shooting zombies in the head.

However, why quibble with the running time, when all we really need is to be entertained with a combination zombie apocalypse movie and heist thriller? For mindless fun, “Army of the Dead” makes the most out of the Vegas setting and zombie playbook.

FOX FALL SEASON PREVIEW

An annual ritual for the broadcast television networks is known as the “Upfronts,” a presentation of upcoming series programming to the advertising industry which finances what ultimately shows up as entertainment on whatever device you choose.

This year, FOX reached out to the nation’s critics to participate virtually, first in a press conference call with network executives and then in the one-hour online Upfront, both hosted by Charlie Collier, CEO of Fox Entertainment.

While the media industry is focused on big streaming services and a turn away from broadcasting, Collier made the case that FOX remains relevant for its programs to be exclusively ad-supported, claiming that no one can “corner the market on creativity.”

The unveiling of the primetime slate for the 2021-2022 season during the Upfront revealed the network is adding four new dramas, two new comedies, four new unscripted series and one new animated comedy to its lineup.

Starting this fall, “The Big Leap” and “Our Kind of People” are two new dramas, and “Alter Ego” is a new unscripted series. The midseason is loaded with new programs that were announced at the Upfront.

Compared loosely to the “Glee” musical comedy-drama series, “The Big Leap” drama is a modern tale of second chances, which revolves around a group of diverse, down-on-their-luck characters participating in a reality dance show that builds to a live production of “Swan Lake.”

On the heels of his latest show failure and with the help of his choreographer (Mallory Jansen), Scott Foley’s Nick Blackburn signs on to produce a brand-new dance contest series filming in Motor City.

Inspired by Lawrence Otis Graham’s provocative, critically acclaimed book, “Our Kind of People: Inside America’s Black Upper Class,” the titular new series takes place in the world of Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard, where the rich and powerful black elite come to play.

“Our Kind of People” follows strong-willed, single mom Angela Vaughn (Yaya DeCosta) as she sets out to reclaim her family’s name but soon discovers a dark secret about her own mother’s past that will shake up the community.

As for a new unscripted fall series, “Alter Ego” is an all-new original singing competition where second chances are reignited when singers from all walks of life become the stars they always wanted to be, but only as alternative personalities.

By early in the new year, we’ll have more to say about a slew of midseason new shows, including the promising comedy “Welcome to Flatch,” where a documentary crew stumbles on a small Midwestern town populated with many eccentric personalities.

It may come as a surprise to no one that chef-cum-television personality Gordon Ramsay will be back with his umpteenth cooking competition, where “Next Level Chef” stages a unique culinary gauntlet over three floors of different kitchens.

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

Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

The insane birds in “Almost Forty”, by the always eloquent and emotionally generous poet, Ada Limón, seem to be warning of the coming of winter, but it is time, really, and its passing, that they anthem.

Yet, Limón finds strained but necessary comfort in the defiance that comes from desiring a long life and good health.

Almost Forty An Old Story
By Ada Limón

The birds were being so bizarre today,
we stood static and listened to them insane

in their winter shock of sweet gum and ash.
We swallow what we won’t say: Maybe

it’s a warning. Maybe they’re screaming
for us to take cover. Inside, your father

seems angry, and the soup’s grown cold
on the stove. I’ve never been someone

to wish for too much, but now I say,
I want to live a long time. You look up

from your work and nod. Yes, but
in good health. We turn up the stove

again and eat what we’ve made together,
each bite an ordinary weapon we wield

against the shrinking of mouths.


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 ©2018 by Ada Limón, "Almost Forty" from The Carrying, (Milkweed Editions, 2018). 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.

The 17th Annual Voices of Lincoln Poetry Contest is welcoming entries.

The theme of this year’s contest is “If Life Were A Game Show, What Would Poets Say?”

The five new contest categories, selected from the names of popular TV game shows, include the following: “Let’s Make A Deal,” “To Tell The Truth,” “The Price Is Right,” “Family Feud” and “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.”

Poets may submit a maximum of three poems, no more than one in each of three of the five contest categories.

Everyone is encouraged to enter the contest. Poets do not have to live in Lincoln, California, to be eligible. There is no entry fee.

Young poets, 18 years of age or under, are encouraged to submit poems and will compete in a special “Young Poets” category.

Last year's contest attracted 104 poets from 66 cities in 14 states and five countries — the United States, England, Germany, Ghana, and Ireland.

Poets submitted 255 poems. Twenty-one young poets submitted 54 poems.

This year they are aiming to reach an even greater audience of poets. They invite all to enter the contest.

The rules and entry form can be downloaded from https://friendsofthelincolnlibrary.org/voices-of-lincoln-poetry-contest/ or https://slolowe44.blogspot.com/2021/03/2021-voices-of-lincoln-poetry-contest.html.

All poems must be received no later than Tuesday, July 20, at the address on the entry form.

Winners will read their poems on Sunday, Oct. 10, at the Voices of Lincoln Special Event to be held at the Lincoln Library if health conditions allow the event to be held.

Those who are unable to attend the event will have their poem(s) read by a member of the Poets Club of Lincoln. Winners will receive a commemorative chapbook of the winning poems.

The Voices of Lincoln Poetry Contest is presented by the Poets Club of Lincoln and is sponsored by the Lincoln Library and the Friends of the Lincoln Library.

Upcoming Calendar

6Dec
12.06.2021 5:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Lake County 29'ers Cribbage Club Meeting
7Dec
12.07.2021 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Rotary Club of Clear Lake
9Dec
12.09.2021 7:30 am - 8:30 am
Rotary Club of Middletown
11Dec
12.11.2021 9:00 am - 12:00 pm
Rodman Preserve Saturday self-guided walks
11Dec
12.11.2021 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Steele
11Dec
13Dec
12.13.2021 5:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Lake County 29'ers Cribbage Club Meeting
14Dec
12.14.2021 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Rotary Club of Clear Lake
16Dec
12.16.2021 7:30 am - 8:30 am
Rotary Club of Middletown
18Dec
12.18.2021 9:00 am - 12:00 pm
Rodman Preserve Saturday self-guided walks

Mini Calendar

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