Monday, 14 June 2021

Arts & Life



‘DEBRIS’ ON NBC

In New Orleans, the culinary capital of America, “debris” is a very tasty shredded roast beef that’s been moistened with pan drippings, resulting in tender, falling-apart meat with lots of juicy flavor.

When visiting the Crescent City, have lunch at Mother’s Restaurant, a veritable institution dishing out the gustatory delights of the most delicious debris Po’boy sandwich.

“Debris,” the new series on NBC, is nothing at all about food, but the mere hint of that New Orleans specialty is making me hungry.

The show’s title refers to a traditional understanding of the word, in this case being the detritus from a spaceship.

Similar in a few ways to “The X-Files,” this science-fiction series features two agents investigating the unexplained phenomena of shards of a wrecked spacecraft passing through our solar system that get scattered across the Western Hemisphere.

CIA operative Brian Beneventi (Jonathan Tucker) and British MI6 agent Finola Jones (Riann Steele) are teamed in a top-secret mission to track down the alien wreckage before it falls into the wrong hands.

The opening scene takes place in a high-end New York hotel where a black market deal involving a piece of metal is about to be closed with Anson Ash (Scroobius Pip) and his henchman, when the American and British agents arrive in time to give chase.

Contact with the debris poses dangerous risks. When a maid touches a shard, she plummets through the interior of the hotel to her death on the ground floor ballroom. Others may bleed through their eyes or have visions of a dead relative.

Though Brian and Finola engage in the type of banter to be expected of their disparate backgrounds, they bring dissimilar approaches to their investigative work, ostensibly designed to draw the audience deeper into a supernatural drama.

Strange happenings are convoluted and puzzling. A woman’s body levitates off the ground and floats away. A young boy possessed by an alien convinces women he’s their son before they meet a terrible fate.

Early on, it seems evident that catching up with the black marketeer Anson Ash and his crew will be no easy task. After all, they elude capture very easily by popping pills that allow them to vanish into thin air.

With only the pilot episode available for review, the jury is out on whether the mysteries that unfold in “Debris” will be sustained over time. On another level, interest in this series may hinge on one’s proclivity for alien intrigue.

During the NBC press tour, Jonathan Tucker revealed that each week a piece of debris is discovered and “it allows us, as partners and the audience, to discover the capabilities....that this debris has to offer.” We’ll see how this goes.

‘THE SIMPSONS’ LONG REIGN ON FOX

During the winter press tour for television critics came the announcement from the FOX network that it has renewed its animated program “The Simpsons” for its 33rd and 34th seasons.

Even now, “The Simpsons” is already the longest-running primetime scripted show in television history, and Homer Simpson weighed in with the observation that “with any luck the show will soon be older than I am.”

This brings up the interesting point of what this series would be like if the characters had aged according to the number of years that series has been on the air.

For one thing, instead of being a 10-year-old kid, Bart Simpson would be a middle-aged man, presumably married and very likely to have kids of his own that turned to be juvenile delinquents.

Homer would be collecting Social Security and either living in a rest home and annoying the other residents or he may have contracted coronavirus, which would be worrisome, given that his lifestyle would likely have resulted in dreaded comorbidities.

Exploding into popular culture in 1990, “The Simpsons” remains not only groundbreaking entertainment, but recognizable throughout the world. One has to marvel at the talent to keep a franchise going this long.

The voice actors are immediately identifiable television icons. Who doesn’t know the voices of family members Homer (Dan Castellaneta), Bart (Nancy Cartwright), Lisa (Yeardley Smith), and Marge (Julie Kavner)? In person, you wouldn’t recognize them.

Creator and executive producer Matt Groening added his perspective by noting that “Everyone at ‘The Simpsons’ is thrilled to be renewed once more, and we are planning lots of big surprises. Homer will lose a hair and Bart will celebrate his 10th birthday for the thirty-third time.”

It’s also reassuring to know that beloved Springfield residents like Hank Azaria’s tavern proprietor Moe Szyslak and Harry Shearer’s nuclear power plant owner Mr. Burns still remain comic foils.

As Bart would say, “Don’t Have a Cow, Man!” if you don’t appreciate the show’s satirical parody of everyday life and cultural references. The ratings prove that “The Simpsons” has incredible staying power.

“It’s a sincere pleasure to announce the Season 33 and 34 pick-ups for ‘The Simpsons.’ We keep hoping that eventually they’ll get it right,” said Charlie Collier, CEO, FOX Entertainment.

For devoted fans, it’s safe to say mission accomplished.

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

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife invites artists to submit their original artwork to the 2021-2022 California Duck Stamp Art Contest.

Submissions will be accepted April 26 through June 4.

The artwork must depict the species selected by the California Fish and Game Commission, which for the 2021-2022 hunting season is the gadwall.

These common dabbling ducks are similar in size and shape to a mallard, with both males and females donning somewhat muted coloring.

Despite lacking the bright colors typical of other male ducks, male gadwalls exhibit intricate feather patterns with subtle yet striking color variations of brown and gray ending in a black patch at the tail.

The winning artwork will be reproduced on the 2021-2022 California Duck Stamp.

The top submissions are traditionally showcased at the Pacific Flyway Decoy Association’s art show in July, but this year’s show status is pending due to COVID-19.

The design is to be in full color and in the medium (or combination of mediums) of the artist’s choosing, except that no photographic process, digital art, metallic paints or fluorescent paints may be used in the finished design.

Photographs, computer-generated art, art produced from a computer printer or other computer/mechanical output device (air brush method excepted) are not eligible for entry and will be disqualified.

The design must be the contestant’s original hand-drawn creation. The entry design may not be copied or duplicated from previously published art, including photographs, or from images in any format published on the Internet.

The contest is open to U.S. residents 18 years of age or older as of March 8, 2021.

Entrants need not reside in California. All entries must be accompanied by a completed participation agreement and entry form. These forms and the official rules are available online at www.wildlife.ca.gov/duck-stamp/contest.

Entries will be judged in June. The judges’ panel, which will consist of experts in the fields of ornithology, conservation, and art and printing, will choose first, second and third-place winners, as well as honorable mention.

Since 1971, CDFW’s annual contest has attracted top wildlife artists from around the country. All proceeds generated from stamp sales go directly to waterfowl conservation projects throughout California. In past years, hunters were required to purchase and affix the stamp to their hunting license.

Now California has moved to an automated licensing system and hunters are no longer required to carry the physical stamps in the field (proof of purchase prints directly onto the license).

However, CDFW will still produce the stamps, which can be requested by interested individuals at www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/collector-stamps.



‘YOUNG ROCK’ ON NBC

Though the 2024 presidential election seems a bit distant, at this moment in time political junkies are already talking about prospective scenarios.

Imagine then what kind of speculation it takes to leap so far ahead to the next decade.

We can now let it be known that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is on the trail for the 2032 presidential race, and “Young Rock” is a retrospective on his formative years that is revealed in a puff-piece interview with Randall Park who has moved on from acting to a cable news desk.

While the agreeably recognizable Johnson doesn’t need to be humanized for a presidential run, the actor-cum-politician takes us back to his origin story as a 10-year-old (Adrian Groulx) growing up in Hawaii in 1982.

Living in a family of pro wrestlers, young Johnson idolizes his father “Soul Man” Rocky Johnson (Joseph Lee Anderson) and is lovingly supported by his caring mother Ata (Stacey Leilua).

Johnson’s extended family includes colorful characters Andre the Giant (Matthew Willig), the Iron Sheik (Brett Azar) and Junkyard Dog (Nate Jackson) who come over to play cards and swap stories. Dwayne learns from Andre the Giant that using the word “fake” to describe wrestling is taboo.

Five years later, the family has relocated to Pennsylvania where Rocky’s career is in such decline that he wrestles at a flea market and Ata is making ends meet with house cleaning work for a rich, bored housewife.

Meanwhile, 15-year-old Dwayne (Bradley Constant) is working in a pizza shop to scrape together $103 to buy a rusted-out car that turns out to be the domicile of homeless men living in the trunk and backseat.

At his high school Dwayne is so smitten with blonde beauty Karen (Lexie Duncan) that he resorts to shoplifting to create the façade of wealth with a new wardrobe and calls himself “Tomas” for a hip identity.

The next stage of growing up takes 18-year-old Dwayne (Uli Latukefu) to the University of Miami where he joins the football team and impresses his dubious teammates in a bench-pressing competition.

The framing of Dwayne’s upbringing in three phases allows for an amiable and often humorous behind-the-curtain look at what made “The Rock” shine as an athlete in football and wrestling and one of the biggest names in show business.

In the Johnson’s extended family of wrestlers, “working the gimmick” was a modus operandi for self-promotion if not a bit of a con in the world of professional wrestling.

“Young Rock” might be a gimmick on its own terms to showcase the scrappy but endearing Dwayne Johnson’s coming-of-age story, one that realizes its subject’s remarkable charisma could be the draw to pull in a hefty audience share.



‘KENAN’ ON NBC

Moving into a Tuesday night time slot following “Young Rock,” comedian Kenan Thompson, a veteran of “Saturday Night Live,” stars in “Kenan” as a widowed father of two smart-aleck kids who hosts a morning TV show in Atlanta.

Having only recently become a widower, Kenan Williams struggles with processing his grief, putting on a brave face when he’s prodded to talk about his deceased wife either on his show or at home with his live-in father-in-law Rick (Don Johnson).

Kenan is not getting help only from his father-in-law, who’s been hanging around now for about a year and doesn’t look ready to return home anytime soon. If it takes three men to care for two girls, then Kenan’s laid-back brother Gary (Chris Redd) is fully onboard.

Notwithstanding his desire to not talk about the past, Kenan’s two adorable daughters Aubrey and Birdie (real life sisters Dani and Dannah Lane) need to hear stories about their mother, Cori (Niccole Thurman).

One of the more interesting stories is how Kenan and Cori met on a sitcom in which, despite an insignificant age difference, she played his mother in a scene tucking her future husband into bed for the night.

Don Johnson may never shake his “Miami Vice” persona, but here he’s got a comedic touch that was more apparent in his role as a San Francisco police inspector partnered with comedian Cheech Marin.

With his paternal role in “Kenan,” Johnson’s meddling, wise-cracking father-in-law allows for even better comedic timing in the wacky bantering that takes place at the kitchen table.

As the host of the “Wake Up With Kenan!” morning show, Kenan is able to engage his natural comedic impulses and allow moments of public humiliation for his boneheaded moves to play out as humorous self-inflicted wounds.

“Kenan” may not cover new ground for a sitcom but it does allow its star to shine with his sunny disposition, trademark grin and overall humanity, even as his character copes with grief and a sense of loss.

As a familiar face from a career in show business dating back to his childhood, Kenan Thompson is the anchor on which “Kenan” either succeeds or fails. Here’s hoping the series rises above the trappings of standard comedy fare.

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

Youngsters and parents are invited to a “clay date” event at the Middletown Art Center in Middletown, California, on Saturday, March 13, 2021. Photo by Jacque Adams.

MIDDLETOWN, Calif. – Families are invited to join Middletown Art Center artists for “clay date” and guided exhibit tours on Saturday, March 13, from 1 to 3 p.m.

The tours will be guided by artist and art educator Lisa Kaplan in the gallery, and the clay date will be facilitated outdoors (inside if raining) by ceramic artist Jacque Adams.

All ages are welcome. Social distancing and masking will be observed.

Visitors will be guided through gallery exhibits and learn about the making and meaning of art through an interactive tour. Exhibits on view are “Home,” as well as a mini-exhibit, “Being Leonardo,” composed of a selection of work made by Middletown Unified students grades third through 12, created prior to the pandemic, as part of an Artists in School project.

All of the exhibits close Sunday, March 14, to make room for new exhibits opening March 20.

After the tour, visitors are invited to create and become inspired at the clay table.

“Participants will have 30 minutes to become familiar with the material, and build from their imaginations,” explained Adams, who is currently an artist-in-residence at Cobb Mountain Art and Ecology Project. “They will be guided through basic clay construction, and introduced to the positive outlets clay making offers, including: tactile gratification, creative engagement, spatial recognition, fine-tuned motor skills, meditation and calmness, and the reward of creating.”

Activities are designed for parents and children to engage and enjoy visual arts together. together. Work made at this event will not be fired, but can be taken home.

Those interested in exploring working with clay more extensively, including firing and glazing, are encouraged to enroll in a clay class offered for children and youth at MAC this April, and ask Adams about classes for adults.

“We really miss hosting student field trips in the gallery and studio, and families are looking for things to do,” said Kaplan, who is also the director of MAC. “We have enough space in the gallery, studio and outdoors to provide an enriching afternoon of engagement with art, and art making for family pods and friends. We encourage people to pre-register and select a time to visit – there are four options – so we can ensure social distancing.”

Please register at http://middletownartcenter.org/events. The suggested donation is $5 per person, no one turned away for lack of funds.

Preregistration is not required, but will help ensure social distancing. You may also call 707-809-8118 to reserve a spot.

The MAC continues to adjust and adapt its programming during the pandemic. The gallery is open Thursday through Monday, 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or by appointment.

You also can visit the show virtually at www.middletownartcenter.org/home.

Find out more about events, programs, opportunities, and ways to support the MAC’s efforts to weave the arts and culture into the fabric of life in Lake County at www.middletownartcenter.org.

Ted Kooser. Photo credit: UNL Publications and Photography.

Tracy K. Smith won the Pulitzer Prize for her book of poems, Life on Mars, from which I’ve selected this week’s poem, which presents a payday in the way many of us at some time have experienced it. The poet lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Editor’s Note: This column (197) is a reprint from the American Life in Poetry archive as we bid farewell to Ted Kooser, and work to finalize the new website and forthcoming columns curated by Kwame Dawes.

The Good Life

When some people talk about money
They speak as if it were a mysterious lover
Who went out to buy milk and never
Came back, and it makes me nostalgic
For the years I lived on coffee and bread,
Hungry all the time, walking to work on payday
Like a woman journeying for water
From a village without a well, then living
One or two nights like everyone else
On roast chicken and red wine.


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. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2011 by Tracy K. Smith from her most recent book of poems, Life on Mars, Graywolf Press, 2011. Poem reprinted by permission of Tracy K. Smith and the publisher. Introduction copyright @2021 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.

Author Michelle Scully and her horse Simba. Photo by Nathan DeHart.

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – Writers, creatives, artists and community members are invited to join Lake County author Michelle Scully on a quest to uncover Hemingway's famous quote exhorting writers to write the “truest sentence you know.”

“Truth Serum” is offered Saturday, March 6, from 1 to 4:30 p.m. on Zoom by the Middletown Art Center.

“The workshop format will be free-flowing and begin with a discussion of what ‘the truest sentence’ means to each of us, then move into time to write, share, think, for sure laugh and maybe cry,” said Scully. “The quote blows me away, and while I challenged myself to do just that as a new year’s intention, I’ve shied away from the ferocity of it. These are such strange and challenging times, but filled with opportunity to winnow through what matters to us, to see more clearly the depths of our hearts, to stretch ourselves to find the good, bad, ugly, beautiful, redemptive within.”

Scully has written a memoir of her journey through a debilitating riding accident, recovery fueled by the wonderment of nature, horses, dogs, family and faith. She’s recently completed a children’s empowerment book and is watching dust collect on a historical fiction novel that’s challenging and exciting her.

Participants will only need a willingness to unravel Hemingway's challenge, computer, paper, pen or quill and papyrus whatever moves you to write.

Please register at www.middletownartcenter.org/classes. Participation is by donation of $25 to $50. A Zoom link will be provided following payment. No one is turned away for lack of funds.

The MAC continues to adjust and adapt its programming during this time of COVID-19. The gallery is open Thursday through Monday, 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or by appointment by phoning 707-809-8118.

Social distancing and mask-wearing are always observed at MAC. You can also visit the show virtually at www.middletownartcenter.org/current.

Find out more about events, programs, opportunities, and ways to support the MAC’s efforts to weave the arts and culture into the fabric of life in Lake County at www.middletownartcenter.org.

Upcoming Calendar

15Jun
06.15.2021 9:00 am - 11:00 am
Board of Supervisors
15Jun
06.15.2021 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Lake County Farmers’ Finest Tuesday market
15Jun
06.15.2021 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Community Visioning Forum Planning Committee
15Jun
06.15.2021 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Lakeport City Council
16Jun
06.16.2021 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Clearlake Marketing Committee
16Jun
06.16.2021 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Sulphur Bank Superfund Site meeting
19Jun
06.19.2021
Juneteenth
19Jun
06.19.2021 9:00 am - 1:00 pm
Clear Lake Shoreline Clean-Up Day
19Jun
06.19.2021 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Lake County Farmers’ Finest Saturday market
20Jun
06.20.2021
Father's Day

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