Saturday, 04 December 2021

Arts & Life

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.

Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

It is reassuring to know that other dog-owners struggle with the strange way in which we project our humanity on animals and ignore the implications of such an “unnatural” act.

Nikki Wallschlaeger’s new collection Waterbaby is packed with such familiar conundrums.

All Dogs Go to Heaven
By Nikki Wallschlaeger
Beloved, we call you brave
hoping the limit
for human reign is terminal,
your rehabilitation to be
dangerously free. Inside
your paws longings twinge
while you sleep. I awake
because you are newborn,
a terrifying responsibility
I’ll be human to you, lead
you on a leash, hate myself
for it, holler when you run
down the road when I let
you go. The truth is I love
watching you trot away
from me: you look like
yourself, whoever that is,
natural dog engaging in
an unnatural world making
stops to rebury your bones,
doing what dogs are allowed
to do, without me.


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 Nikki Wallschlaeger, “All Dogs Go to Heaven” from Waterbaby, (Copper Canyon Press, 2020). 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.

Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

In this typ­i­cal­ly plain-spo­ken poem by North Car­oli­na poet, Ter­ri Kir­by Erick­son, from her new col­lec­tion, “A Sun Inside my Chest,” there is, hum­ming below the still sur­face of lan­guage, a rich pulse of hope, of every­day sur­vival — a body’s defi­ance that she cap­tures in that final image.

New Bathing Suit
By Ter­ri Kir­by Erick­son

My friend is wearing her new black bathing suit.
It came with the proper cups, made to fill
with one breast and the memory
of another—which is not to say emptiness—
but the fullness that comes to us, with sacrifice.
There is no one more alive than she is now,
floating like a lotus or swimming, lap after lap,
parting the turquoise, chlorine-scented water,
her arms as sturdy as wooden paddles.
And when she pulls herself from the pool,
her new suit dripping—the pulse is so strong
in her wrists and throat, a little bird
outside the window will hear it, begin to flap
its wings to the beat of her heart.


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 Terri Kirby Erickson, “New Bathing Suit” from A Sun Inside my Chest, (Press 53, 2020). 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 TOMORROW WAR’ RATED PG-13 on AMAZON PRIME VIDEO

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.

CBS FALL TV PREVIEW

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.



‘THE ICE ROAD’ RATED PG-13 ON NETFLIX

Befitting his status as the B-movie action hero, the latest Liam Neeson adventure thriller actually has a rating, but “The Ice Road” would really qualify as a straight-to-video film.

Enter Netflix, a streaming service that arguably has a fondness for entertainments in this genre, to deliver since the studio pipeline to local cinemas at this point in time is not back up to pre-COVID glory days.

In a nutshell, the premise of “The Ice Road” can be deduced from the opening credit sequence which informs the viewer that 65,000-pound trucks traversing frozen lakes and rivers can be dangerous and result in fatalities.

Also noted in the credits is this kicker: “Some drivers describe (these treks) as suicide missions.” Right away, we know the stakes are going to be high for traveling on the ice roads.

OK, who’s either crazy or incredibly brave enough to take on this driving assignment? Well, this is a Liam Neeson movie after all. Three guesses and the first two don’t count.

As it happens, Liam Neeson’s long-haul driver Mike McCann and his brother Gurty (Marcus Thomas), a skilled mechanic and war veteran suffering PTSD and aphasia, are based in North Dakota and looking for work in Canada.

An explosion at a diamond mine in northern Manitoba traps about two dozen miners underground. A rescue mission must be accomplished within 30 hours due to the limited supply of oxygen, but the site is remote and hard to access.

The heavy equipment needed to save the miners can’t be airlifted, and spring weather is making thinning ice roads even more precarious to travel. A convoy of three rigs will be needed for the sake of redundancy, allowing for at least one truck to make it all the way.

Expedition organizer Jim Goldenrod (Laurence Fishburne) needs a crew yesterday, so he takes on the team of Mike and Gurty and posts bail for rebellious young Native activist Tantoo (Amber Midthunder), whose brother is one of the trapped miners.

Along for the ride is the mining company’s actuary (Benjamin Walker), an obnoxious fellow who may have more on his mind than crunching the numbers for an insurance risk analysis.

Tension on the road trip comes from racing against the clock with suspected sabotage of an engine, perilous frozen cracks, rippling sheets of ice, a storm and an avalanche.

A conspiracy is afoot that may or may not be fully revealed or understood. The trapped miners bicker over the idea of thinning the herd to conserve a dwindling oxygen supply. Some people turn out not to be who you thought they were.

With the help of some mercenaries, the corporate bad guys prove to be even worse than thought possible. A key player is also unjustly maligned before becoming a key asset at a critical juncture in the mission’s journey.

Liam Neeson is still working at being the oldest actor taking the tough guy roles, whether in a B-movie or not. Though “The Ice Road” is far from one of the better films in the action genre, it’s not an altogether misfire.

RANDOM TV PREVIEW

Netflix announced it’s working on an untitled workplace comedy series inspired by the front office of the Los Angeles Lakers, an iconic franchise with 17 NBA championships to its credit.

Jeanie Buss, owner of the team that she inherited from her father Jerry Buss, famously posed for Playboy back in 1995 as a younger sports executive in the front office.

Since this series is inspired by the personal and professional dynamic between the family owners and front office team, will the fictional team governor Eliza Reed navigating NBA ownership and family drama have to deal with lingering fallout from posing in the buff?

Will the front office deal with the poor sportsmanship often displayed by the team’s superstar LeBron James? Is there room for satire of a player who leaves his team hanging with almost six minutes to go in a crucial playoff game?

AMC Networks announced that it has greenlit Anne Rice’s “Interview with the Vampires” as a new series for AMC+ and AMC based on the bestselling novel that will premiere next year.

In a major acquisition, the company acquired the rights to Rice’s iconic works, encompassing 18 titles including the “Vampire Chronicles” and “Mayfair Witches” series.

Rice’s first novel “Interview with the Vampire,” in which Lestat was the central character, was nearly two decades later turned into a movie of the same name with Tom Cruise as the French aristocratic vampire.

The Anne Rice fan base is massive, and the fact that the famed author and her son Christopher Rice will serve as executive producers on all series and films should draw interest to AMC’s ambitious plans.

AMC has scored a coup with holding the rights for the world renowned and globally coveted intellectual property to develop its own Anne Rice franchise. Together, the “Vampire Chronicles and the “Mayfair” book series have sold more than 150 million copies worldwide.

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



‘F9: THE FAST SAGA’ RATED PG-13

The “Fast & Furious” franchise has been running for twenty years, and if it were not for the “F9: The Fast Saga” title, one could easily lose count of its number of installments.

“Fast & Furious Present: Hobbs & Shaw,” a spin-off film, does not count for the franchise, otherwise we would be watching “F10.” Yet, keep an eye out here for one of its protagonists.

“F9” opens with Vin Diesel’s Dom Toretto living the quiet life on a farm with Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and his son, little Brian. Fans should not worry that Dom’s past of danger and driving fast cars is behind him.

In less time than it takes Dom to go from zero to 60 mph, Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) show up with news that CIA mastermind Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) has been captured after a plane crash.

Entering the mix of bad guys plotting world domination with the theft of a secret device that is part of Project Ares that could destroy the security systems of all nations is Dom’s forsaken brother Jakob (John Cena).

Part of the reason for the film’s nearly two-and-a-half hours length are the numerous flashbacks to Dom’s uneasy childhood, the reasons for the sibling rivalry and the fiery death of the father. The Toretto family has its own soap opera.

A more odious villain is a rich Eurotrash psycho named Otto (Thue Ersted Rasmussen). The villainous Cipher (Charlize Theron), spending most of her time in a plexiglass cage, figures into the plot.

Not to be overlooked is Helen Mirren’s Queenie, showing up to take Dom on a fast spin through London streets.

If you’ve ever wondered if a Pontiac Fiero could be outfitted with rockets and hurtled into space with Roman and Tej as humorously bickering astronauts, then you probably know the answer either from watching the trailer or knowing that nothing can be too far-fetched.

Coming right to the point, “F9” has little to do with any confusing storylines and plot holes or the characters; it’s all about over-the-top action sequences with an incredibly high toll of vehicles destroyed in spectacular fashion.

All in all, “F9” is mindless fun to be enjoyed by an audience that will care absolutely not in the least whatever negativity emanates from high-brow critics. This escapist fare will be gleefully savored for all its exciting thrills.



‘BOSCH’ ON AMAZON PRIME VIDEO

One of the best police procedurals is only getting better in its seventh and final season on Amazon Prime Video. In “Bosch,” Titus Welliver returns in the eponymous role of Los Angeles Police detective Harry Bosch.

Working out of the Hollywood Homicide division, Bosch has seen it all but what disturbs him the most is any vile and horrific mistreatment of children, including grisly abuse, sex trafficking and murder.

Going by his credo of “Everybody counts or nobody counts,” Bosch becomes obsessed with the investigation of an apartment building arson fire when a ten-year-old girl dies along with her mother and other family members.

An irreverent detective who often has a problem with authority, Bosch follows his instincts and willingly bends a few rules in pursuit of justice, particularly for the most vulnerable victims.

At his desk in the police station, Bosch keeps photos of kids either missing or dead in cases that remain unsolved. The pictures are a reminder that the stoic detective will keep plodding along even if he has to clash with bureaucratic obstacles.

The arson fire was caused by a Molotov cocktail tossed into the apartment building by a local gang, and when Bosch and his partner Jerry Edgar (Jamie Hector) investigate they find themselves in a possible conflict with an FBI probe.

Several subplots run throughout the season. Bosch’s daughter Maddie (Madison Lintz) is still interning with defense lawyer Honey “Money” Chandler (Mimi Rogers) on a case that takes a dangerous turn.

The Hollywood division’s Lt. Grace Billets (Amy Aquino) endures the treachery of office politics and a workplace harassment campaign seemingly orchestrated by a pair of sexist beat cops.

Chief of Police Irvin Irving (Lance Reddick) faces a threat to his career from a hostile new mayor, and with the dynamics on a Police Commission subject to political pressure, does the Chief have any leverage to win another term?

What matters most and holds the greatest interest in this last season is how dogged Bosch becomes to bring justice for the young arson victim regardless of whatever the cost may be to his position at LAPD.

Since it’s been widely announced that the “Bosch” series will have a spin-off show on Amazon’s free streaming service IMDb TV, there’s good reason for viewers to hang in during the last episode when the screen goes dark.

Previous seasons had ten episodes, so it’s a shame this last one only has eight. Savor every moment of “Bosch” and marvel at how good a television series can be with the right cast, script and production.

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

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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