Sunday, 28 November 2021

Arts & Life

Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

For many of us who live in land locked states, an encounter with the tumult and power of the sea can be a bracing encounter with nature.

Here, in a poem I came across in a clever new anthology called Read Water, Annie Finch captures the humbling way that the sea asserts its forceful voice.

Edge, Atlantic, July
By Annie Finch

I picked my way nearer along the shocking rock shelf,
hoping the spray would rise up to meet me, myself.

Seagulls roared louder and closer than anything planned;
I looked out to see and forgot I could still see the land.

Lost in a foaming green crawl, I grew smaller than me;
shrunk in a tidepool, I heaved, and I wondered. The sea

grew like monuments for me. Each wave and its coloring shadow,
bereft, wild and laden with wrack, spoke for me and had no

need of my words anymore. I was open and glad
at last, grateful like seaweed and glad, since I had

no place on the rocks but a voice, and the voice was the sea’s:
not my own. Just the sea’s.

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 Annie Finch, “Edge, Atlantic, July” from Read Water: An Anthology (Locked Horn 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.

Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

There is nothing quite like the relief of good news from the doctors. Of course, it is a reminder of the bad news we eventually expect, the faith that the word “cure” demands of us.

I have always enjoyed Hilda Raz’s wry sense of humor, and this poem is no different.

By Hilda Raz
I am sick with worry when you call.
You tell me a story about ears
How the doctor asked about your earaches
Peered in and pronounced “Pristine.
Clean as a whistle.” And you were cured.

Because I am a maker of poems
And you are a maker of music
You tell me the word pristine was perfect.
It was the cure.

Yesterday I went to the hospital
To hear my heart beat in her various chambers.
I knew the sounds:
The Fly Bird from the right ventricle
The Go Go from the left
The Here I am from under the rib.

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 Hilda Raz, “Pristine” from List & Story, (Stephen F. Austin State University 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.

Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

Sasha Pimentel’s poem is a splendid example of the poetic device called the conceit, which refers to an extended metaphor, and of course, the image here is the violin.

Yet the title of the poem is taken from Arizonan Stella Pope Duarte’s novel about violence against women set in Juárez, the Mexican border-city, which makes this image of a silenced instrument quite haunting and unsettling.

If I Die in Juárez
By Sasha Pimentel
The violins in our home are emptied
of sound, strings stilled, missing
fingers. This one can bring a woman down
to her knees, just to hear again
its voice, thick as a callus
from the wooden belly. This one’s strings
are broken. And another, open,
is a mouth. I want to kiss
them as I hurt to be kissed, ruin
their brittle necks in the husk of my palm,
my fingers across the bridge, pressing
chord into chord, that delicate protest—:
my tongue rowing the frets, and our throats high
from the silences of keeping.

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 Sasha Pimentel, “If I Die in Juárez” from For Want of Water (Beacon Press, 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.


An existential sense of doom pervades visionary filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan’s latest thriller, which is based on the French graphic novel “Sandcastle” that’s about a group of people vacationing on a secluded beach who discover they are aging rapidly.

The succinctly titled “Old” follows the same premise of its source material, and that’s hardly surprising for anyone who has seen the trailer. It’s not a spoiler to reveal the aging process is so fast as to leave little time for an escape from the beach.

A group of unlucky vacationers at a luxurious tropical resort are invited by the unctuous manager for a day-trip excursion of surf, sun and sand at an off-limits nature preserve that turns into a nightmare.

Gael Garcia Bernal and Vicky Krieps are Guy and Prisca Capa, a married couple on the verge of divorce who bring along their 11-year-old daughter Maddox (Alexa Swinton) and six-year-old son Trent (Nolan River) on what may be a last family trip.

Joining the Capa family on the beach outing is surgeon Charles (Rufus Sewell), his mother Agnes (Kathleen Chalfant), his much younger wife Chrystal (Abbey Lee) and their six-year-old daughter Kara (Kylie Begley).

A rapper who goes by the moniker Mid-Sized Sedan (Aaron Pierre) has mysterious nosebleeds and is already wandering around in a daze. But that’s nothing compared to how Dr. Charles slips rapidly into a disturbing state of paranoia.

The real problem for the vacationers is that a day at the beach turns the young kids into teenagers even before it’s time for a picnic lunch. A dead girl washes ashore and her body quickly decomposes. A psychologist (Nikki Amuka-Bird) faces the threat of epileptic seizures.

“Old” creates an interesting dynamic for the beachgoers trapped in an idyllic place that is anything but relaxing and tranquil. There’s a foreboding feeling of tragedy in that the characters are not in control of their destiny.

More than anything, “Old” ramps up tension and the sense of mortal danger with chilling dread. Shyamalan sums it up in the press notes saying that he “wanted it to feel like you’re watching a two-hour ‘Twilight Zone’ episode.”

Whether Shyamalan delivers an overall suspenseful thriller may be debatable, though on balance the thrills are ominous. Another arguable point is if the twisty ending delivers a suitable conclusion to a supernatural nightmare.

Moviegoers may well argue if the Shyamalan formula of weirdness produces an unsettling effect in “Old.” Go ahead and discuss this amongst yourselves.


IMDb TV is an ad-supported streaming service owned by Amazon where you can watch TV shows and movies online for free. The service is now in the business of having its own original programming, starting most notably with “Leverage: Redemption.”

Back in 2008, the TNT network launched a five-season run of “Leverage,” a crime drama series that followed a five-person team consisting of a grifter, hacker, hitter, and expert thief led by former insurance investigator Nathan Ford (Timothy Hutton).

In carrying out capers, the team acted like Robin Hood in fighting predatory corporate types and corrupt government officials that had wronged ordinary citizens. Now the team is back, minus Timothy Hutton, but with a new player joining in Noah Wyle’s Harry Wilson.

Returning as the avenging crew is Gina Bellman’s grifter Sophie Devereaux, Beth Riesgraf’s master thief Parker, Christian Kane’s martial artist Eliot Spencer, and Aldis Hodge’s computer hacker Alec Hardison.

As a New Orleans lawyer who served as a corporate fixer, Harry Wilson brings a new perspective to the group of do-gooder con artists in that he’s turned the corner from a career of helping rich and powerful crooks to knowing how to get the upper hand to bring them down.

While Sophie may be the de facto leader replacing the deceased Nathan, Harry represents the emotional core of the mission to help the little guy since he’s the one seeking redemption to atone for years of defending the evildoers.

Apparently, Aldis Hodge’s schedule only permits a limited participation in this reboot, but conveniently Hardison’s foster kid sister Breanna (Aleyse Shannon) takes over as the new master of electronic wizardry.

As with the original series, the motley crew of reformed criminals engages in virtuous scams such that each episode stands on its own for wish fulfillment that justice has been served.

The adventures in the early episodes include an elaborate heist in Panama to thwart an evil billionaire’s plan to flee extradition and upending the dastardly plot of a greedy riverboat casino owner to bulldoze the homes of longtime New Orleans natives for his planned expansion.

A very topical undertaking in “The Tower Job” episode is conning a cost-cutting developer out of an entire high-rise apartment building. As filming must have occurred before the building collapse in Florida, this has the feel of a prescient cautionary tale.

While the justice-for-the-aggrieved concept of “Leverage: Redemption” and its predecessor is hardly unique, the team of con artists with their own set of special skills work so well together to deliver a fun diversion.

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


The premise of many horror stories in film and television come from the active imaginations of talented writers, but sometimes the source material is based either on real life events or by conflating fiction with a measure of factual occurrences.

As is the case with programs based on real events, Peacock’s “Dr. Death,” an eight-episode series on the terrifying true story of neurosurgeon Christopher Duntsch, notifies the viewer that certain parts have been fictionalized solely for dramatic purposes.

In the case of Dr. Duntsch, once considered a rising star in the Dallas medical community who was building a flourishing neurosurgery practice, the awful truth of his malpractice is stranger and more frightening than fiction.

An Internet search of Duntsch reveals many sordid details of his surgical errors and his ultimate fate. The telling of this story in dramatic form presents the viewer a series that is more disturbing and unnerving than a horror movie.

Joshua Jackson’s Duntsch, who could boast that he mastered a medical degree as well as a Ph.D., is seen as charismatic and ostensibly brilliant as he promises patients with back and neck pain that he has pioneering ways to render them whole again.

The opposite of his assurances to perform minimally invasive spine surgery and his claim that every surgery was perfect is revealed over a short period of time to have resulted in 33 surgeries where the patient was either maimed or paralyzed and in a couple of cases died.

As the victims pile up, two fellow physicians, neurosurgeon Robert Henderson (Alec Baldwin) and vascular surgeon Randall Kirby (Christian Slater), find themselves in the unenviable position of going up against a colleague.

The limited series evolves in a nonlinear manner, which requires the audience to keep up with the timeline but allows for flashbacks that unpeel the layers of Duntsch’s sociopathic history and the gall of his narcissistic and unfounded belief in his skills.

In college, Duntsch was unable to grasp basic plays on the football team. As he made his way through medical school and his early career, he exuded an arrogance of confidence he could not back up.

Duntsch possibly thought that as a surgeon he was the next Christiaan Barnard or that in his research he might be just as important as Madame Curie or Louis Pasteur. The truth of the matter is that his arrogance and malicious incompetence belied any measure of medical genius.

Dr. Henderson, discreet and cautious, and Dr. Kirby, impetuous and bold, may be an odd couple offering up some comic relief in their banter, but their dedication to stopping Duntsch gets an ally in equally dogged young prosecutor Michelle Shughart (AnnaSophia Robb).

While watching many of Duntsch’s distressing surgeries and the resulting grief for the victims is deeply troubling, the emotional core of the story really belongs to the two doctors so excellently portrayed by Baldwin and Slater.

In the end, viewers are left to ponder whether Duntsch was grossly incompetent or maliciously evil. We may never know for sure, but “Dr. Death” is a compelling story of a broken system that failed to protect the most vulnerable from an ego-driven sociopath.


The case of Dr. Duntsch is so unsettling that Peacock follows up its eight-episode series “Dr. Death” with the four-part docuseries “Dr. Death: The Undoctored Story” that starts streaming on Thursday, July 29th.

The docuseries will offer audiences the chance to hear and see the whole story, told by the real people who survived it. Central figures to the doctor’s downfall are interviewed, so naturally that includes the real-life doctors Robert Henderson and Randall Kirby.

On the legal end, the key player, assistant district attorney Michelle Shughart who had the most challenging task of convincing the jury to convict Dr. Duntsch for a life sentence, is also interviewed.

Of course, the “Dr. Death” series prominently featured the two respected surgeons and the prosecutor, while the docuseries will also feature conversations with others closest to Duntsch and his criminal case.

Shedding light on his relationship with the disgraced doctor would likely come from an interview with Jerry Summers, Duntsch’s best friend who was paralyzed following two surgeries.

Wendy Young, the former stripper and ex-girlfriend of Duntsch and mother of his two sons, will offer her story. Both Summers and Young are portrayed by actors in the “Dr. Death” series.

Meanwhile, “The Undoctored Story” brings others to light who were not portrayed by actors in the series. Dr. Joy Gathe-Ghermay was the anesthesiologist during Jerry Summer’s horrific surgery.

Dr. Mark Hoyle, a Texas who physically tried to stop Duntsch during a surgery, and Tex Muse and Pamela Trusty, two of Duntsch’s victims, are also part of the program.

Interestingly enough, the Duntsch story came to light in 2019 on Oxygen’s “License to Kill” series in an episode appropriately titled “Deadly God Complex,” in which Dr. Robert Henderson and Dr. Randall Kirby were featured for their perspectives.

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


While the fare at movie theaters hasn’t quite returned to what it used to be, at least there is the alternative of your own home cinema with streaming services.

Amazon Prime Video offers up in “The Tomorrow War” the type of entertainment that would appear at the multiplex. In the hero role as Dan Forester, Chris Pratt is an ex-military guy unwillingly conscripted into a global war against alien species.

In the press notes, Pratt is quoted as saying “making a film where I get to fight aliens and save the world while cracking the occasional joke is right in my wheelhouse.”

During a televised World Cup soccer game, time-traveling soldiers from the year 2051 appear on the field with an urgent message that thirty years from now humanity faces extinction unless more citizens get transported to the future to fight aliens known as “white spikes.”

Having to leave behind his wife (Betty Gilpin) and their young daughter, Forester along with draftees that include Charlie (Sam Richardson) and Norah (Mary Lynn Rajskub) are shuttled to post-apocalyptic Miami Beach for an apparent suicide mission.

The fast-moving “white spikes,” armed with tentacles and rotting teeth, are ravenous creatures with an insatiable taste for human flesh. Scores of humans fall prey to aliens that are hard to kill.

Leader of the mission is a brilliant female scientist code-named Romeo Command (Yvonne Strahovski), who is revealed to have a connection with Forester’s present. Let’s just say there is an emotional element to the story for touching character development.

The political equation is fairly absent from the story unless you count Forester’s estranged father (J.K. Simmons) cracking wise of reporting the alien threat to “the U.N. and they can talk about it till we’re all dead.”

As a reluctant warrior, Sam Richardson is a delight for his comic wisecracks, and the likable Chris Pratt’s science teacher and devoted family man seems like the right man, with the help of a diverse group of draftees, to save humanity.

Who really cares if the premise of “The Tomorrow War” is far-fetched or cheesy? We come for the sci-fi thriller action of the fierce, the violent battle with slimy aliens, and are not surprised with the outcome.


Legendary producer Dick Wolf may be the undisputed king of network television programming. Not satisfied with two full nights on the NBC fall schedule, Wolf is going for the trifecta by taking over Tuesday nights for CBS this coming fall.

NBC has Wolf’s “Law & Order” and “Chicago” series completing the lineup for Wednesday and Thursday nights, and now with CBS having Wolf’s “FBI” franchise taking over the entire Tuesday night, what’s left is to conquer Monday and Friday nights.

“FBI: International” takes the successful brand to follow elite operatives of the Bureau headquartered in Prague as they travel the world with the mission of tracking and neutralizing threats against American citizens.

Not allowed to carry guns, the international team of agents must rely on intelligence, quick thinking and brawn as they put their lives on the line. This new series will be bracketed by “FBI” and “FBI: Most Wanted,” creating a nice bridge to shore up the evening.

Another new drama that has its own franchise is “NCIS: Hawaii,” where Vanessa Lachey’s Jane Tennant, the first female Special Agent in Charge of NCIS Pearl Harbor, has thrived and risen through the ranks by equal parts confidence and strategy in a system that pushed back.

With an unwavering team of specialists, Tennant’s crew balance duty to family and country while investigating high-stakes crimes involving military personnel, national security and the mysteries of the sun-drenched island paradise itself.

There seems to be no end to crime drama franchises, and as if to prove the point, “CSI: Las Vegas” in another entry into the sweepstakes with “CSI” opening a new chapter in Sin City, a good a place as any to deploy the latest forensic techniques to preserve and serve justice.

A new team of investigators led by Maxine Roby (Paula Newsome) must enlist the help of old friends, Gil Grissom (William Petersen), Sara Sidle (Jorja Fox) and David Hodges (Wallace Langham). Matt Lauria and Mel Rodriguez also star.

“Ghosts,” a single-camera comedy about cheerful freelance journalist Samantha (Rose McIver) and up-and-coming chef Jay (Utkarsh Ambudkar), who throw caution and money to the wind when the decide to convert a huge rundown country estate they inherited into a bed-and-breakfast.

The problem is that they find the place is inhabited by the many spirits of deceased residents who now call it home.

The departed souls are a close-knit, electric group that experience anxiety when they realize Samantha is the first live person who can see and hear them.

The colorful spirits include a saucy Prohibition-era lounge singer, a pompous 1700s militiaman, a ‘60s hippie fond of hallucinogens, a cod-obsessed Viking explorer from 1009 and a sarcastic and witty Native from the 1500s, among others.

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

Upcoming Calendar

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

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