Sunday, 28 November 2021

Arts & Life

Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

The monk’s ton­sure is inten­tion­al, a shaved bald spot as part of the rit­u­als of sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion, but here, in his poem, ​“Ton­sure,” Kevin Young sees this hered­i­tary mark­er as a com­plex sign of the things a man inher­its from his father, the dif­fi­cult, the beau­ti­ful, and, most pow­er­ful­ly, the part that repeats itself when he becomes a father, too.

Young​’s col­lec­tions are always an occa­sion, as is his next book, “Stones” (2021), in which this poem appears.

Tonsure
By Kevin Young

Forever you find
your father
in other faces—

a balding head
or beard enough
to send you following

for blocks after
to make sure
you’re wrong, or buying

some stranger a beer
to share. Well, not
just one—and here,

among a world that mends
only the large things,
let the shadow grow

upon your face
till you feel
at home. It’s all

yours, this father
you make
each day, the one

you became when yours
got yanked away.
Take your place between

the men bowed
at the bar, the beer
warming, glowing faint

as a heart: lit
from within & just
a hint bitter.


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 Kevin Young, “Tonsure”, from Virginia Quarterly Review, Spring 2020. Forthcoming in Stones (Alfred A. Knopf, 2021.) 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.

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. — String classes and rehearsals for the new community orchestra originally scheduled to begin in September have been postponed by the Lake County Symphony Association.

Sue Condit, conductor of the LCSA Community Orchestra, said the sign-up date for string classes has been changed from September to December.

Classes and rehearsals will likely start in January of 2022.

“We’re pleased with the high level of community interest in the classes and the community orchestra and have already sent emails to those who expressed interest in participating to inform them of the date change,” said Condit. “Unfortunately, due to the uptick in the COVID virus and new safety protocols necessary to keep everyone safe in rehearsals, we felt a delay was necessary.”

Condit said the situation will be reevaluated in December. “If everything looks good, we plan to start up on Jan. 9, 2022.”

For the latest updates and for information about all upcoming LCSA events, visit the group’s website.

Debra Fredrickson works with the Lake County Symphony Association.



'COPSHOP' RATED R

The production of a B-movie could either be a low-budget commercial film or in the broader sense a genre picture with an exploitative or even campy quality, which might describe any number of action thrillers starring Gerard Butler.

The B-grade is often used in a pejorative sense to diminish the artistic appeal of an action picture, but for “Copshop,” in which Butler has a key role, that would be an unfortunate misjudgment.

Butler’s Bob Viddick is a man of mystery, but first the proper set-up is to observe that Frank Grillo’s Teddy Murretto is equally enigmatic as he drives along an isolated Nevada desert highway in a car riddled with bullet holes.

Why is Teddy on the run, but more puzzling, why does he sucker-punch police officer Valerie Young (Alexis Louder) who is trying to break up a wedding brawl outside a casino?

Teddy wants to get arrested so that he’s safely tucked away in the jail at the remote police station of Gun Creek, little aware that assassin-for-hire Bob is on his trail and just as eager to stage an ostensible drunk-driving accident to end up in a cell across from Teddy.

What ensues is a lot of tough-guy jabbering between the two jailbirds, as Teddy has a bounty on his head that seemingly has something to do with the murder of the state’s Attorney General and missing documents in a briefcase.

The reasons for the political assassination are not only murky but actually prove irrelevant to the plot. Bob wants to kill Teddy, while Teddy just wants to find out if his ex-wife and son are safe, but from what or whom we don’t really know.

Meanwhile, a truly psychotic killer named Anthony Lamb (Toby Huss) shows up at the police station carrying birthday balloons and a machine gun, and then promptly goes berserk in a bloody rampage.

With most of her colleagues falling victim to the psycho and after being injured herself, Officer Young manages just barely to find refuge in the holding cells and is faced with the dilemma of deciding whether to trust Bob or Teddy for help.

Trust is hard to come by at this police station when one of the officers has a keen interest in retrieving contraband stored in the evidence locker. What’s his connection to any of the criminals?

As good as Frank Grillo and Gerard Butler may be as relentless adversaries, Alexis Louder’s rookie cop steals the show with her wit and intelligence as well as fearless bravery in the face of extremely challenging circumstances.

Capturing the essence of ‘70s exploitation, “Copshop” proves to be similar in a good way to a grindhouse film with the feel of something Quentin Tarantino might have directed flanked by “Reservoir Dogs” and “Pulp Fiction.”

Best of all for this entertaining, rousing thriller, filled with tough dialogue and even rougher violence, is the climactic moment of an escape that leaves room for a sequel that one hopes brings director Joe Carnahan (“Smokin’ Aces”) back behind the camera.



‘KATE’ ON NETFLIX

While we’re on the subject of violent action thrillers, why not take a look at Netflix’s “Kate,” a brutal drama involving an assassin in Japan racing against the clock after being poisoned to hunt the party responsible for her condition.

As the titular character, Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s assassin, mentored in the craft by a father figure in Woody Harrelson’s Varrick, bears a lot of similarity to “Gunpowder Milkshake,” another recent Netflix film. Or think of Natalie Portman in “Leon: The Professional.”

Not to divulge too many details, Kate violated one of the rules of a professional killer, which is why she was poisoned by a deadly dose of Polonium-204 and can only keep going with occasional jabs of adrenaline.

In the quest to find her killer, Kate teams up with rebellious teenager Ani (Miku Patricia Martineau), who has ties to the Japanese underworld but is disaffected with her criminal relatives who have made her an orphan.

The storyline for “Kate” is hardly distinctive. Winstead’s Kate is to Harrelson’s Varrick what Maggie Q’s Anna is to Samuel L. Jackson’s Moody in “The Protégé,” at least on the superficial relationship of a female contract killer to her male mentor.

In the final analysis, “Kate” is a derivative pastiche of the genre, cursorily satisfied with seizing only the most ruthlessly intense and borderline sadistic actions of a professional killer operating in a fantasy underworld.

Of course, since Winstead’s Kate has only 24 hours to live, all niceties must be dispensed with in her headlong rush to kill every Yakuza scumbag that stands in the way of her ultimate target.

While “Kate” may waste its star’s versatile talent, mindless escapism is not necessarily something to dismiss as we breathlessly await better films at the multiplex. Good thing that the next James Bond film “No Time to Die” is just around the corner.

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



‘CRY MACHO’ RATED PG-13

At the age of 91, Clint Eastwood is not just an institution but an actor and director, performing double duty in his latest film “Cry Macho,” with an apparent desire to outlast all of his contemporaries.

We should not begrudge Eastwood’s wish to keep working; instead, his work ethic is something to be admired. While he will never play Dirty Harry again, nor appear in a spaghetti western, his characters will likely be more like the ones in “Gran Torino” and “The Mule.”

The artwork for the film’s poster features an iconic pose of Eastwood that suggests a throwback to his early Westerns, but “Cry Macho” is not the story of a righteous gunslinger roaming the range.

“Cry Macho” is the right fit for him at this point in his career. Eastwood’s Texas cowboy Mike Milo is a former rodeo star and has-been horse breeder who, in 1979, reluctantly takes an assignment from his old boss to venture south of the border.

Wealthy rancher Howard Polk (Dwight Yoakum), a year after firing Mike as his horse trainer, comes to him for the dubious task of retrieving his estranged teenage son Rafo (Eduardo Minett) from the care of his crazy Mexican ex-wife Leta (Fernanda Urrejola) in Mexico City.

While Mike has no particular fondness for his old boss, he feels obligated to return a favor to the person who gave him a job after a severe injury ended his riding career, which was followed by the loss of his wife and son.

One senses that the long drive on the dusty roads all the way to Mexico City presages a rockier trip back home after arriving at the destination of Leta’s mansion where the boy’s decadent and alcoholic mother is protected by menacing bodyguards.

Leta warns that Rafo is a delinquent who has a passion for entering his prize fighter rooster named “Macho” in illegal cockfights. Rafo could be involved in other illicit affairs, but mama seems not to care.

When Mike resists a drunken advance in her bedroom, Leta is no longer hospitable, and at this point it’s also fairly evident that she will become vengeful and task one of her henchmen in pursuit back to the border.

As the kid survives on the streets of the big city, Rafo is quickly found at a cockfight and proves reluctant at first to go with Mike to Texas until a tentative bond is formed with the promise of having his own horse on a ranch.

What happens next is a journey through the back roads where delays occur because of transportation difficulties and pursuit by the federales and Leta’s thug, the latter discovering that the aging Mike still has a nice right hook.

That the nonagenarian still has a few moves, as unlikely that may be in the romance department, becomes part of the story when Mike and Rafo stumble upon a desert small town where the cantina is run by the widowed Marta (Natalia Traven).

Enjoying the hospitality afforded by Marta, a woman about half the age of Mike who is also raising her orphaned granddaughters, the two travelers decide to hang around the village for a while, even camping out on the benches of a small church.

Perchance, Mike enjoys the flirtation that blossoms with the cantina owner. Other things bind him to the village. Mike finds purpose with helping a local to tame some wild horses, and pretty soon he becomes a Dr. Dolittle by helping others with their sick pets and farm animals.

The chemistry between the veteran cowboy and the kid may seem perfunctory but it revolves around the trust that comes from overcoming shared adversities on the road, and with Mike imparting occasional wisdom such as saying “the macho thing is overrated.”

With Mike and Rafo spending so much time together, conversation turns to forming a bond where the two learn something from each other. When the kid claims Mexicans ride horses better than gringos, Mike quickly reminds him that he’s half-gringo.

The heart of the film is most moving and satisfying during the sojourn in the small dusty town, where Mike connects easily with people who don’t even speak English or when he communicates with one of Marta’s deaf grandchildren through sign language.

Other than a thug trying to tangle with Mike or suspicious federales poking around, “Cry Macho” is devoid of gunfights, brawls, exciting car chases and other staples of an action film.

Clint Eastwood has directed a slow-paced trip through the picturesque desert terrain that would be fitting for a Western, but it’s a sentimental journey of redemption and second chances for both the cowboy and the kid.

The wisdom of “Cry Macho” comes when Mike says to Rafo, “You think you have all the answers, but then you get older and realize you don’t have any. By the time you figure it out, it’s too late.” Let’s hope it’s not too late for Eastwood to turn out more films.

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

Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

Dorianne Laux is one of our treasured poets. Her elegant poems grow out of the familiar.

“Urn” is beautifully inventive in the way she connects the moment of uneasy childlike delight in the inexplicable “magic” of a light switch (“I didn’t know/ where the light went”), with her struggle to face mortality.

Laux’s new collection of poems, from which this lovely elegy comes, “Only as the Day Is Long: New and Selected Poems,” appeared in 2020.

URN
By Dorianne Laux

I feel her swaying
under the earth, deep
in a basket of tree roots,
their frayed silk
keeping her calm,
a carpet of grass singing
Nearer my god to thee,
oak branches groaning in wind
coming up from the sea.

We take on trust the dead
are buried and gone,
the light doused for eternity,
the nevermore of their particulars
ground up, dispersed.
As a child I didn’t know
where the light went
when she flipped the switch,
though I once touched
the dark bulb that burned
my fingertips, studied the coiled
element trapped inside
seething with afterglow.


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 Dorianne Laux, “Urn” from Only as the Day Is Long: New and Selected Poems (W.W. Norton & Company, 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.

Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

What haunts this loose sonnet by Carrie Green is loss, anticipated loss, but loss, nonetheless. Yet, what emerges is an elegant “pre-elegy.”

A tender anthem to a father and to the sweetness he represents, an anthem made more intimate by the choice of addressee: “Brother.”

ROBBING THE BEES
By Carrie Green
after John Wood

Brother, one day the grove and hives will empty:
the neighbor’s trees frozen back to stumps,
our father’s bees scattered across the scrub.
But today the scent of orange blossom
reaches our patch of sand, and the beeyard
teems with thieving wings. Our father works
the hives, white shirt buttoned to the neck,
hands glove-clumsy. Veiled, he’s mysterious

as a bride. Brother, we’ll want to recall
the pollen-dusted light kissing scrub oak
and sand pine, the needles smoking in tin,
the bees’ stunned flight as our father offers
a taste of honey on his pocketknife.
Our tongues steal sweetness from the rusted blade.


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 Carrie Green, “ROBBING THE BEES” from Studies of Familiar Birds, (Able Muse Press, 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.

Upcoming Calendar

29Nov
11.29.2021 5:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Lake County 29'ers Cribbage Club Meeting
30Nov
11.30.2021 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Board of Supervisors redistricting hearing
30Nov
11.30.2021 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Rotary Club of Clear Lake
1Dec
2Dec
12.02.2021 7:30 am - 8:30 am
Rotary Club of Middletown
4Dec
12.04.2021 9:00 am - 12:00 pm
Rodman Preserve Saturday self-guided walks
4Dec
12.04.2021 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Steele
4Dec
12.04.2021 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Steele
4Dec
12.04.2021 1:30 pm - 4:00 pm
Park Study Club Christmas tea
4Dec
12.04.2021 5:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Festival of Trees

Mini Calendar

loader
Cookies!

lakeconews.com uses cookies for statistical information and to improve the site.