Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Arts & Life

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.

Pristine
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.

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.




‘DR. DEATH’ ON PEACOCK

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.

‘DR. DEATH: THE UNDOCTORED STORY’ ON PEACOCK

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.



‘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.

Upcoming Calendar

29Jul
07.29.2021 11:00 am - 3:00 pm
Job fair
30Jul
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31Jul
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17Aug
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Lake County Farmers’ Finest Tuesday market
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