Thursday, 20 February 2020

Arts & Life

Ted Kooser. Photo credit: UNL Publications and Photography.

Tolstoy said, "Nothing can make our life, or the lives of other people, more beautiful than perpetual kindness."

I found this poem by Dorianne Laux in Poetry of Presence: An Anthology of Mindfulness Poems, published by Grayson Books of West Hartford, CT.

The poet, whose most recent book of poetry is Only As The Day Is Long, lives in Maine.

For the Sake of Strangers

No matter what the grief, its weight,
we are obliged to carry it.
We rise and gather momentum, the dull strength
that pushes us through crowds.
And then the young boy gives me directions
so avidly. A woman holds the glass door open,
waiting patiently for my empty body to pass through.
All day it continues, each kindness
reaching toward another—a stranger
singing to no one as I pass on the path, trees
offering their blossoms, a child
who lifts his almond eyes and smiles.
Somehow they always find me, seem even
to be waiting, determined to keep me
from myself, from the thing that calls to me
as it must have once called to them—
this temptation to step off the edge
and fall weightless, away from the world.

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 ©1994 by Dorianne Laux, "For the Sake of Strangers," from What We Carry, (BOA Editions, Ltd., 1994). Poem reprinted by permission of Dorianne Laux and the publisher. Introduction copyright @2020 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.

Western Swing Hall of Famer Tommy Thomsen. Photo by Kent Porter.

LAKEPORT, Calif. – Western Swing Hall of Famer Tommy Thomsen and his six-piece band including steel guitar, sax and fiddle will bring a uniquely American style of dance to the Soper Reese Theatre at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 22.

Start practicing your two-step and be sure to bring your dancing shoes.

Reserved seating tickets are $25, 20 and 15.

Western Swing is an amalgam of blues, Dixieland, ragtime, big-band swing, country, pop and breakdowns.

Groups like Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys attracted huge crowds to dance halls and clubs in Texas, Oklahoma and California during the 1930s and 1940s.

Contemporary bands include Asleep at the Wheel and the Hot Club of Cowtown.

Thomsen grew up in Sonoma, mixing it up with the likes of Commander Cody and Norton Buffalo, but he may be moving on.

Recently he purchased a roadhouse called the Church of Western Swing in the tiny West Texas town of Turkey, once the home of Thomsen’s musical idol, Bob Wills.

The concert is sponsored by Arlene Hanlon, Strong Financial Network, and Carol and Steve Schepper.

Tickets can be purchased online at or at The Travel Center, 825 S. Main St., Lakeport, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., or at the theater box office up to two hours ahead of showtime.

The Soper Reese Theatre is located at 275 S. Main St., Lakeport, 707-263-0577.

The Middletown Art Center invites the community to celebrate with a Valentine’s dance on Friday, February 14, 2020. Photo courtesy of the Middletown Art Center.

MIDDLETOWN, Calif. – The public is invited to dance to songs of love, lust and loss this Valentine’s Day, Friday, Feb. 14, at the Middletown Art Center from 7:30 to 11:30 p.m.

Let the beats penetrate your heart and move your soles into past, present, and future loves. Come with a partner or come alone.

DJ’s Shape Shift, Blue and Nic will provide something for everyone including Soul, Funk, R&B, House, World and Disco.

Admission is $12 and includes a warm gooey chocolate Love Bite from Goddess of the Mountain, or $2 credit towards another Goddess of the Mountain delicacy.

Children’s movies will be screened in the studio, supervision in the studio provided (donations appreciated) but parents must supervise their kids outdoors. Beer or wine available for purchase.

Celebrate love of all kinds at MAC this Valentine’s Friday.

The MAC is located at 21456 State Highway 175 at the junction of Highway 29 in the heart of Middletown.

Gallery hours are Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Fridays, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sundays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; or by appointment by calling 707-809-8118.

Visit to learn more about upcoming classes, exhibitions, events and ways to support the MAC’s efforts to weave the arts and culture into the fabric of Lake County communities.


Just for the record and for whatever it is worth, the full film title of the DC Comics twisted tale of an anti-heroine’s antics is “Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn).”

The emancipation arrives in the form of Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn letting everyone know during an animated opening credit sequence that no longer being the main squeeze for The Joker places her on the open market.

Independence comes with a stiff price since Harley is now missing the protection of Mr. J, as she calls her ex, has to fend for herself in a Gotham City that is an incredibly dangerous place, much more so than Detroit on a bad weekend.

Robbie’s Harley was first seen a few years ago in the borderline execrable “Suicide Squad,” but fortunately “Birds of Prey” is neither a sequel nor a spinoff of the first failed attempt to establish this flamboyant character as a tough cookie.

Having to operate on her own terms, Harley has a target on her back from an assortment of bad guys, the worst being the narcissistic Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor), a mob boss backed up by his bleach-blonde henchman Victor Zsasz (Chris Messina).

Seemingly ambiguous about being on either side of the law, Harley takes the sticky-fingered pickpocket street urchin Cass (Ella Jay Basco) under her wing for lifting an extremely valuable diamond belonging to Sionis, the sadistic crime lord known as Black Mask.

The problem for Harley is that she initially sought favor with Sionis for his protection by seeking to earn the bounty on Cass’ head until switching gears to save the annoying kid from an ugly fate despite the risk to her own survival.

Harley teams up with Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez), an outcast detective ready for some vigilante justice; the revenge-minded Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), and Black Canary (Jumee Smollett-Bell), a singer with the supernatural power of a devastating scream.

On the heels of the subversive energy and madcap behavior of Harley, the next most interesting character is arguably the crossbow-wielding Huntress whose backstory about witnessing as a child the murder of her entire family explains her focused goal of rage-fueled retribution.

A suspension of disbelief is required to accept that the “Birds,” as Harley’s gang would be known, engage in implausible action scenes of girl power pummeling the stuffing out of the many, and stronger, male antagonists that outnumber them.

That “Birds of Prey” takes flight on its dazzling acrobatic fast-paced action sequences may not be enough to overcome the feeling that an exciting female action hero will be much better realized by Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman in the coming film “Wonder Woman 1984.”


During the winter TV press tour, the subscription service YouTube Originals announced the debut of the documentary “This is Paris,” set to premiere in May, that is billed as an authentic look at the woman behind the global icon known as Paris Hilton.

A ballroom full of critics were treated to a trick demonstration by magician David Blaine whereby he sows his mouth shut with needle and thread while a squeamish Paris Hilton stands by to witness a playing card pulled from his mouth.

Susanne Daniels, YouTube’s head of Original Content, let it be known the death-defying illusionist would partner with the subscription service for an unprecedented live event that would presumably offer a lighter and brighter side of David Blaine.

With previous launches of music livestream events featuring artists like Coldplay and Taylor Swift, YouTube is a natural platform for the documentary “Coachella: 20 Years in the Desert,” premiering March 31, for behind-the-scenes stories of the famed music festival.

The AMC Networks, which includes IFC and BBC America programs, has demonstrated it has the magic touch in developing popular series like “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad” and “Killing Eve,” to name only a few.

The AMC series that elicits the most inquiries from friends about its inevitable return is “Better Call Saul.” Well, the wait is nearly over for a two-night premiere event of the fifth season scheduled for Feb. 23 and 24.

As reported during the press tour, Bob Odenkirk’s Jimmy McGill decides to practice law in Albuquerque as “Saul Goodman,” creating unexpected and profound waves of change in New Mexico’s legal and illegal circles.

Series co-creator Peter Gould announced they are about to start work on a sixth season, which sad to say he said would be the last, while noting that his team doesn’t “have much of an idea” of how it will end, only that they are aiming to wind up with a total of 63 episodes.

AMC’s “Dispatches from Elsewhere,” premiering on March 1st, is an anthology series created by and starring Jason Segel that is described as a modern take on a “Wizard of Oz” story in a series that is a weird journey of four diverse strangers on a quest for connection and meaning.

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

The Trois Bois wind trio. Courtesy photo.

LAKEPORT, Calif. – The Trois Bois wind trio, hailing from the Bay Area, will perform at the Soper Reese Theatre on Saturday, Feb. 15, at 7 p.m. as part of the theatre’s Contemporary Chamber Music series.

Tickets are $20 for adults. Children 18 and under are free. Open seating.

Featuring Laura Reynolds on oboe, David Granger on bassoon and Patricia Shands on clarinet, the trio has been concertizing since 2009, championing a wide range of repertoire from the 18th century to the present day.

The group particularly enjoys providing verbal commentary and context for their repertoire and inviting listeners into the conversation.

Trois Bois programs span several centuries of music and feature many celebrated composers.

Sponsored by Kirsten Olson. For tickets go to or to The Travel Center, 825 S. Main, Lakeport, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information call 707-263-0577. The theatre is located at 275 S. Main St., Lakeport.

Ted Kooser. Photo credit: UNL Publications and Photography.

Last week I said that I planned to publish two beautiful poems of grief and loss by David Baker, from his new and selected poems, “Swift,” published last year by W. W. Norton.

This is the second of those poems.

Baker teaches at Denison University in Ohio and is the poetry editor of Kenyon Review, one of our most distinguished literary journals.


Small flames afloat in blue duskfall, beneath trees
anonymous and hooded, the solemn trees--by ones
and twos and threes we go down to the water's level edge
with our candles cupped and melted into little pie-tins
to set our newest loss free. Everyone is here.

Everyone is wholly quiet in the river's hush and appropriate dark.
The tenuous fires slip from our palms and seem to settle
in the stilling water, but then float, ever so slowly,
in a loose string like a necklace's pearls spilled,
down the river barely as wide as a dusty road.

No one is singing, and no one leaves--we stand back
beneath the grieving trees on both banks, bowed but watching,
as our tiny boats pass like a long history of moons
reflected, or like notes in an elder's hymn, or like us,
death after death, around the far, awakening bend.

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 ©2019 by David Baker, "Mercy," from Swift, (W. W. Norton, 2019). Poem reprinted by permission of David Baker and the publisher. Introduction copyright @2020 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.

Mini Calendar



Responsible local journalism on the shores of Clear Lake.





Enter your email here to make sure you get the daily headlines.

You'll receive one daily headline email and breaking news alerts.
No spam.