Saturday, 04 December 2021

Arts & Life

Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

It’s been some months since our last election, but it is always good to be reminded, in this poem by Kamilah Aisha Moon, of how precious and hard-won the right to vote and the act of voting are.

1st VOTE
By Kamilah Aisha Moon

It was hers.
She had this choice
behind curtained bliss,
Dad’s chest full on the other side
as her tapered hand
pulled the lever.

No matter how wide
the final margin,
a lone ballot
never counted so much.

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 ©2013 by Kamilah Aisha Moon, “1st Vote” from She Has a Name (Four Way Books, 2013.) 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.

Kimiko Hahn’s father was born and raised in Wisconsin. A place that has now become part of his daughter’s imagination.

She herself is a woman of many arrivals and departures, and thus a woman fascinated by the complex meaning of “home”, as she shows here in this sonnet.

The life-cycle of the cicada offers a splendid opportunity for her to speak of childhood, maturation and change as part of the parent-child experience.

Reckless Sonnet No. 8
By Kimiko Hahn

My father, as a boy in Milwaukee, thought
the cicada’s cry was the whir from a live wire—
not from muscles on the sides of an insect
vibrating against an outer membrane. Strange though
that, because they have no ears, no one knows why
the males cry so doggedly into the gray air.
Not strange that the young live underground sucking sap
from tree roots
for seventeen years. A long, charmed childhood
not unlike one in a Great Lake town where at dusk
you’d pack up swimsuit, shake sand off your towel
and head back to lights in the two-family sat around the radio.
And parents argued over their son and daughter
until each left for good. To cry in the air.


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 ©2002 by Kimiko Hahn, "Reckless Sonnet No.8." from The Artist’s Daughter, (W.W Norton & Company, 2002). 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.

Gloria Scott on Juneteenth at the Middletown Art Center in Middletown, California. Photo by Michael Chandler.

MIDDLETOWN, Calif. — The Middletown Art Center presents the second in the “Sounds of Liberation” series with acclaimed singer/songwriter Gloria Scott on Saturday, Aug. 28, at 7 p.m. at MAC and online.

Scott, now living in Nice, will be hosted by Clovice Lewis, composer, musician, educator and social justice advocate from Upper Lake.

The evening's event is centered around a conversation about race and music and performance by Scott with an opportunity for audience questions and a wine reception.

Doors open at 6:45 p.m.

This Sounds of Liberation event will hold stories of Scott’s experiences as a musical artist, her professional work with Sly Stone and Ike and Tina Turner, her solo album produced by Barry White, and her artistic journey as a woman of color in a demanding industry during challenging times of social change and racial injustice.

For more information about Gloria Scott read the article “The soulful trip of Gloria Scott.”

Sounds of Liberation honors the black experience as told through musical genres that have contributed to, and influenced contemporary North American music and culture.

The primary goal of the project is to create environments that support public exploration of challenging questions about systemic racism in America through music and the personal experiences of Black musicians living in Lake County.

A collaboration between Clovice Lewis and The MAC, Sounds of Liberation was inspired by 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.

The MAC invites community members of all ages to join by improved Zoom broadcast or by limited seating in-person at the MAC gallery to hear Scott’s story and experience her powerful voice.

The project launched on Juneteenth at The MAC with a conversation between arts professional and social justice advocate Sabrina Klein Clement and Clovice Lewis.

Lewis now shifts to his role as interviewer. “There was so much discovery in our delightful sharing on Juneteenth,” said Lewis, “I can’t wait to do it again with the fabulous Gloria Scott.”

Additional Sounds of Liberation events will take place this fall in locations around the county and feature musician Victor Hall and recording artist Andre Williams among others.

Participants may purchase tickets to attend in-person, with COVID protocols in place, or RSVP for Zoom participation and receive a link. Tickets are available on a sliding scale at www.middletownartcenter.org/sounds-of-liberation.

Sounds of Liberation is made possible with community support and with support from California Humanities, a nonprofit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit www.calhum.org.

The mission of The MAC is to provide art opportunities, art education, cultural enrichment, and ecological awareness, contributing to community well-being throughout Lake County and among our neighbors.

The MAC Gallery is open Thursday through Monday, 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., or by appointment by phoning 707-809-8118.

Learn more about The MAC and ways that you can support their work weaving the arts into life in Lake County at www.middletownartcenter.org.




‘FREE GUY’ RATED PG-13

Failing to be an aficionado of video games, I approach a review of “Free Guy” with some measure of trepidation for fear of misrepresenting the mechanics of what unfolds.

Even to the uninitiated, Ryan Reynolds’s primary role is that of a background character named Guy in a violent video game that is called “Free City.” In his gaming world, Guy is a bank teller where his best friend is Buddy (Lil Rel Howery).

Given his status as an NPC (Non-Player Character), Guy wears the same blue shirt and khaki pants every day, wakes up to his goldfish, orders the same bland cup of coffee, and goes to work where he endures daily violent robberies.

Guy and his pal Buddy, a security guard at the same bank, cheerfully brave their daily routine. Guy’s usual greeting is “Don’t have a good day; have a great day!” Everyday is “Groundhog Day” until he spies the pretty, unapproachable Molotov Girl (Jodie Comer).

Back in the real world, Guy’s dream girl is based on game architect Millie (Jodie Comer), who developed “Free City” with colleague Keys (Joe Keery). Both of them find their game being purloined by Soonami Studios CEO Antwan (Taika Waititi).

Possessed of a token amount of Artificial Intelligence, Guy desires to activate his free will and become part of the action, if for no better reason than he’s falling for Molotov Girl and hoping for a romance that seems unrealistic.

Meanwhile, Antwan is the epitome of an arrogant, greedy corporate villain. He’s appalled that a liberated Guy, who becomes known as “Blue Shirt Guy,” threatens the orderly nature of his gaming world.

What’s at stake, at least for Antwan, is the pending release of the sequel to the “Free City” video game, a version that would not be compatible with Guy and his NPC cohorts.

Apparently, Antwan cares not at all about his promise to his programmer Keys and creator Millie that the sequel “Free City 2” would uphold components of the original. This explains why Millie is on the outside with a lawsuit against Soonami.

Skullduggery by Antwan leads Keys and others to find ways to expose the villainous corporate honcho’s efforts to conceal the game’s code in order to destroy the upstart Blue Shirt Guy’s growing popularity.

For gamers and non-gamers alike, sweating the operational details of this video game action comedy would likely be pointless. “Free Guy” can be appreciated for the wit and charm of the guy in the blue shirt.

Ryan Reynolds, master of frenetic comedic demeanor (think “Deadpool”), shines with a low-key charisma that brings a rooting interest in his character. Be assured, however, that some fine gags result in agreeable laughs.

CABLE TV PREVIEW

The fall season is upon us, with many new cable programs. From executive producer Curtis “50 cent” Jackson, Starz’s new series “BMF” is inspired by the true story of two brothers who rose from the streets of Detroit in the late 1980s to become a crime family.

Demetrius “Big Meech” Flenory (Demetrius “Lil Meech” Flenory Jr.) and Terry “Southwest T” Flenory (Da’Vinchi) exercise business acumen and a vision beyond the drug trade into the world of Hip Hop to become iconic on a global level.

Their unwavering belief in family loyalty would be the cornerstone of their partnership and the crux of their eventual estrangement. “BMF” is a story about love, kinship and capitalism in the pursuit of the American dream.

The first season of “Heels” on Starz has already started but there’s time to catch up to this story about the people who chase their dreams in the world of small-town pro wrestling.

Set in a close-knit Georgia community, “Heels” follows a family-owned wrestling promotion as two brothers and rivals, Jack Spade (Stephen Amell) and Ace Spade (Alexander Ludwig) war over their late father’s legacy in the ring.

During the TV press tour, Ludwig reported that training for the series made the actors realize “just how much athleticism goes into this sport.”

There will be a longer wait for the launch of Starz’s “Shining Vale,” a horror comedy about a dysfunctional family that moves from the city to a small town into a house in which terrible atrocities have taken place.

No one seems to notice the strange history of the house except for Pat (Courteney Cox), who’s convinced she’s either depressed or possessed – turns out, the symptoms are exactly the same.

Pat is a former “wild child” who rose to fame by writing a raunchy, drug-and-alcohol-soaked women’s empowerment novel. Now 17 years later, Pat is clean and sober but totally unfulfilled.

In the new house, Pat is the only one to whom Rosemary (Mira Sorvino) is visible. During the press tour, Sorvino was cagey in saying much about her character, other than she's “really colorful” and “sort of scary.”

Pat and her husband Terry (Greg Kinnear) are working on a last-ditch effort to save their marriage. Maybe living in an old house in the suburbs where evil and humor collide may complicate matters.

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




‘THE PROTÉGÉ’ RATED R

Netflix’s “Gunpowder Milkshake” has as its protagonist a young woman who’s quite proficient as a professional contract killer.

Meanwhile, the same situation is at hand in “The Protégé,” a stylish action thriller with a deadly efficient female assassin.

In a 1991 prologue, we find a young Vietnamese girl hiding in a closet and holding a gun she used to kill the murderers of her parents. Rescued by legendary assassin Moody (Samuel L. Jackson), the young girl is trained in the business.

Now an adult, Maggie Q’s Anna, teamed in an apprenticeship with her father figure Moody, becomes a skilled contract killer in her own right, all the while running her own London store selling rare books as her true passion.

With a nagging cough and a looming retirement seeming inevitable, Moody’s days as a wily assassin may be coming to an end.

Meanwhile, the enigmatic Michael Rembrandt (Michael Keaton) visits Anna’s bookstore, setting in motion an inevitable cat-and-mouse game.

While there’s an oddly flirtatious situation between Anna and the much older Rembrandt, the romantic friction only delays for the moment the fact that Rembrandt is an agent for a crime boss hiding out in Vietnam who presents a danger for Moody and Anna.

Not wanting to return to her homeland as the result of bad childhood memories, Anna must nevertheless seek out the mysterious crime lord while getting some help from a biker gang led by Robert Patrick’s Billy Boy, who would look more at home at a rally in Sturgis.

Anna goes from looking glamorous in a sleek red dress at a fancy restaurant dinner with Rembrandt to becoming a hostage being tortured by waterboarding by a bunch of thugs who ultimately prove no match for this assassin.

Directed by Martin Campbell (“Casino Royale”), one can be forgiven for having the notion that “The Protégé” is like a test run for having Maggie Q in a future role of a female James Bond. She certainly demonstrates the chops for a tough secret agent.

An action picture offering gripping escapism, “The Protégé” is worth watching if for no better reason than enjoying Maggie Q’s fierce take on lethal vengeance which delivers an exciting excess of breakneck thrills.

‘9/11’ DOCUMENTARIES ON TV

Not surprisingly with the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attack on our mainland coming on September 11th, a variety of 9/11 documentaries are scheduled across various platforms.

At the end of August, National Geographic Channel will premiere the six-part documentary series “9/11: One Day in America” made in official collaboration with the 9/11 Memorial & Museum.

The series offers a comprehensive account of the day using archival footage – some never before seen – and new, original interviews with eyewitnesses who now have had almost two decades to reflect on the events they lived through.

The perspective of first responders and survivors includes the first FDNY chief to arrive at the World Trade Center and a firefighter who escaped the North Tower just before it collapsed. Paramedics recall their devastating encounters of searching for life in the rubble.

The History Channel plans an extensive observance of the 9/11 anniversary with a series of seven hours of documentary programming, beginning with “9/11: The Legacy,” a poignant sharing of stories from young adults who were children impacted by the terrorist attack.

“Rise and Fall: The World Trade Center” covers the first terrorist attack during the 1993 bombing and unpacks in vivid detail a timeline of how and why the building fell after commercial airliners flew into the towers on September 11.

Through personal narratives of family and friends, “9/11: Four Flights” tells the riveting and emotional human stories of those aboard each doomed jetliner. We probably recall the final heart-wrenching phone calls and harrowing yet heroic moments especially on the United 93 flight.

Featuring rare footage and audio, “9/11: I Was There” unveils an intimate portrayal of the events of September 11 captured by ordinary people who chose to pick up their video cameras that day.

A two-hour documentary, “9/11: I Was There” puts viewers in the shoes of New Yorkers and visitors alike to unfold the tragedy, the fear of what was next and the horrific aftermath to follow resulting in a raw and unfiltered telling of that fateful day.

Apple TV+ announced “9/11” Inside the President’s War Room” which tells the story of 9/11 through the eyes of President George W. Bush and his team of key decision makers who responded for the nation during the 12 hours after the strike on that horrific day.

The Apple TV+ documentary will feature never-before-heard testimony not only from President Bush, but from administration officials that include Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State Colin Powell and Chief of Staff Andy Card, among others.

Anyone of a certain age to remember September 11, 2001 will be likely moved by the storytelling of a dark chapter in our history and yet be inspired by those who displayed feats of heroism and altruism in response.

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

Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

Carolyn Forché’s ability to transport us to unusual places is a gift.

Here in her poem, “Clouds”, we learn of tart Russian Antinovka apples that become for her, personal symbols of the immigrant experience in America.

In this tender poem about memory and movement, she skillfully manages to collapse time as she reflects on the lives of her parents.

Clouds
By Carolyn Forché

A whip-poor-will brushed
her wing along the ground
a moment ago, fifty years
in the orchard where my father
kept pear and plum,
a decade of peach trees
and Antinovka’s apples
whose seeds come
from Russia by ship
under clouds islanding
a window very past
where also went
the soul of my mother
in a boat with blossoming
sails like apple petals
in wind fifty years at once.


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 Carolyn Forché, "Clouds" from In the Lateness of the World (Penguin Publishing Group, 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

4Dec
12.04.2021 5:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Festival of Trees
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

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