Thursday, 28 October 2021

Arts & Life

Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

The elegant irony of Elaine Equi’s lament — what the Germans, I am told, call, “Weltmüdigkeit” (world-weariness) — in her poem, “In an Unrelated,” about the very contemporary phenomenon of “the news cycle,” is that despite what may seem like a grand separation of human beings in the world, we, in the end, have a common sense of collective connection.

In other words, the poet recognizes that we are all in this thing together. This is one splendid use of poetry, to be the “campfire” of our humanity.

In an Unrelated
By Elaine Equi

We have almost nothing left,
no ground in common.

At best, a brand
or maybe a miniseries.

No campfire to gather around.
The big stories—peckish news

gets told in tweets,
gets old so quickly.

In place of one place
a billion tiny customized versions

appear targeted specifically
to your tastes.

You see only what you want to see.
Maybe you always did.

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 Elaine Equi, “In an Unrelated” from The Intangibles (Coffee House Press, 2019.) 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.

Bruce Willard’s poem, “Song Sparrow,” captures with such intimacy, the interruption of the comforting rituals of time: seasons changing, children growing older, water under the bridge, the world continuing its march.

Here, in the midst of this, our long and tumultuous pandemic “season,” I am struck by how familiar the breathlessness that Willard describes feels.

As with the best poems, the familiarity is formed through empathy — something that poetry teaches us, again and again.

Song Sparrow
By Bruce Willard

That summer we opened the lake cottage,
prehistoric sound of loons before us,
decades of children at our back,
familiar sound of water
under the porch eaves.

A song sparrow
hit the window
just as summer began.

You held it in your hand
bent over, unable to breathe
another year, working
your fingers
under its feathers and bone.

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 Bruce Willard, “Song Sparrow” from In Light of Stars (Four Way Books, 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.

When historical figures become the subjects of poetry, there is a rich opportunity for transporting us into the emotional world of such people through the beauty of the imagination.

The facts of Anarcha Westcott’s difficult story can be found online, but Dominique Christina’s persona poem, “How Anarcha Sees His Work,” enriches our understanding of the brutish work of the 19th century South Carolina physician, J. Marion Sims, and in so doing, the poet imbues Anarcha’s life with a quality of human dignity in powerful ways.

How Anarcha Sees His Work
By Dominique Christina
i seen a chicken get his head
cut off and bein a chicken
he dumb and don’t know he
dead so he floppin and still running the yard
still! no head at all blood like bread crumbs
runnin runnin and folk laugh and
wait on the chicken to know he gone and it
take a while

i mean it aint always quick or easy
for a dead thing to know it’s a dead thing
so its squawkin and flappin
like it still got life and ain’t no life there
at all and that is what it’s like

doctor/massa tickled
at the blood and the squawkin
waitin on me to know i’m a dead thing
and me, dumb wit stayin.


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 from, Anarcha Speaks: A History in Poems, copyright © 2018 Dominique Christina. Reprinted with special permission from Beacon Press. 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.

The Peacock channel is serious this year about celebrating Halloween for every kind of fan for the spooky season, which includes running all eight “Harry Potter” movies, though I am not sure how scary the franchise is to most viewers.

A better bet is the release of “Halloween Kills,” which is probably the thirtieth or so title in the “Halloween” franchise, which stars Jamie Lee Curtis and Nick Castle reprising their respective roles of Laurie Strode and Michael Myers.

To put everything into perspective, Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode made her first appearance in “Halloween” in 1978 and was the sole survivor of Michael Myers’ killing spree. “Halloween Kills” has been released in theaters and is streaming on Peacock.

Talk about an odd couple pairing, rapper Snoop Dogg and media personality Martha Stewart host the competition special “Snoop and Martha’s Very Tasty Halloween” featuring talented bakers who face off in a delectable Halloween showdown.

Teams of three bakers, called “Scare Squads,” are tasked with baking and building a full sensory 12x12 Halloween world that people can literally explore. The catch? Their worlds must be inspired by the concept of fear. Imagine larger-than-life chocolate spiders.

New horror films to air include “Separation” from director William Brent and “You Should Have Left,” Blumhouse’s psychological thriller starring Kevin Bacon and Amanda Seyfried about an isolated country home where nothing is quite as it seems.

Classic monster movies are on tap. One of them being “Dracula,” which we assume is the 1931 version starring Bela Lugosi as the County. The Peacock classic films to be aired, including “Frankenstein” and “The Invisible Man” all come from Universal Pictures’ horror collection.

Halloween-themed episodes of favorite TV series will be shown, ranging from sitcoms like “Cheers” and “Everybody Loves Raymond” to silly gags on “Saturday Night Live” to dramas like “Law & Order” that go to serious places with their Halloween tales.

Even family-friendly thrills suitable for a younger audience are to be found with “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events” television series and the “Monster High” film series.

Starting on Oct. 29, TCM will deploy its extensive library of classic films to satisfy every taste in spooky, creepy, horrifying (and sometimes humorous) entertainment over the course of 48 hours of its Halloween Marathon.

The fun starts on Friday night, two days before Halloween, as Vincent Price stars in 1971’s “The Abominable Dr. Phibes” as a highly creative madman mimicking the Biblical plagues of Egypt to exact revenge on the doctors believed responsible for his wife’s death.

Two great classics of the genre follow: the granddaddy of all zombie pictures, George Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead” (1968) and “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (1978). The last one is on late, but don’t fall asleep – you know what can happen!

The 1970s scream queen Linda Blair can be seen in 1981’s “Hell Night” and 1977’s “Exorcist II: The Heretic,” which offers the added treat of hearing the great Richard Burton utter the immortal line: “Pazuzu, king of evil spirits of the air, help me find Kokumo!”

Saturday, Oct. 30, is jam-packed with Halloween tricks and treats, including 1961’s “Creature from the Haunted Sea,” featuring an appearance by future Oscar-winning screenwriter Robert Towne (“Chinatown”).

The most famous mad scientist/monster team of all time gets its due in three films: James Whale’s original and still unsurpassed “Frankenstein” (1931), and the Hammer Films retelling in 1957’s “The Curse of Frankenstein,” starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing.

The third film of this august group has a completely different take on the zipper-necked monster. That would be Mel Brooks’ hilarious spoof “Young Frankenstein” (1974), a classic film in its own right.

Speaking of British horror legends Lee and Cushing, they are the lead characters in the classic “Horror Dracula” (1958), respectively as the vampire Count Dracula and the vampire hunter Doctor Van Helsing.

Hammer, the leading British studio for shock and gore, is represented again with 1966’s “The Devil’s Own,” released in the U.K. as “The Witches,” in which Joan Fontaine seeks to outdo big sister Olivia de Havilland’s forays into the genre in the 1960s.

No compendium of great movie horror would be complete without at least some of the films released at RKO under the aegis of producer Val Lewton.

Eschewing monsters, shock effects and obvious gore, Lewton was remarkable for a series of low budget pictures that were subtle in their approach to the genre; dark shadowy tales of psychological terror that also fit them perfectly into TCM’s Noir Alley series.

Vincent Price starred in the original version of “The Fly” (1958) and in two of the notable series of loose Edgar Allan Poe adaptations made by Roger Corman in the 1960s, “Pit and the Pendulum” (1961) and “The Tomb of Ligeia” (1964), with a screenplay by Robert Towne.

For a big screen experience, Universal Studios and Fathom Events present a double feature at local cinemas on Saturday afternoon, Oct. 30, of “The Invisible Man” starring Claude Rains and “The Wolf Man” starring Lon Chaney Jr.

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




‘NO TIME TO DIE’ RATED PG-13

Anyone who has watched the James Bond films over the course of time has a pretty good idea of how the storyline will play out when Agent 007 goes up against the latest megalomaniac villain.

With Daniel Craig in his fifth and final appearance as James Bond, “No Time To Die” picks up where “Spectre” left off, allowing for the spy’s romantic relationship with Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux) to mellow his usual sexual escapades.

With age and maturity, Craig’s Bond is no longer a womanizer, unlike Sean Connery’s apparent eagerness to bed any attractive female, including the distaff adversaries he hoped to convert to the right side.

Even though Bond loves Madeleine, he has trust issues that go back to his love for Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) in “Casino Royale,” who ultimately betrayed him. While the affair with Madeleine may be fraught with wariness, Bond is more restrained when it comes to the opposite sex.

Where once the James Bond films played as separate standalone adventures, linked by characters both malevolent and benign, the Daniel Craig series has unfolded as a unified whole. “Skyfall,” for one, revealed important aspects of the double-O agent’s early life.

“No Time To Die” begins in the aftermath of 2015’s “Spectre” where the film’s conclusion saw Bond and Madeleine drive away in the iconic Aston Martin DB5.

While the film opens with a flashback to Madeleine’s troubled childhood, Bond first makes his appearance when he and Madeleine are visiting a rocky, hilltop city perched atop southern Italy.

During the lengthy pre-credits sequence, the sojourn to Italy is charged with peril when the pair are trapped by an army of henchmen determined to kill Bond. What ensues is an extended action sequence with the Aston Martin delivering the necessary firepower.

When the dust settles on the ambush and subsequent shootout, Bond figures that Madeleine betrayed him and bids her farewell at a train station with the notion they will never see each other again.

Five years later, Bond has retired from MI6 and is living a blissfully peaceful single life in Jamaica, which is soon upended by the arrival of his old CIA pal Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) seeking help for a mission to rescue a kidnapped scientist.

Leiter and his associate Logan Ash (Billy Magnussen), whose awkward grin suggests something more sinister, dispatch Bond to Cuba, where he contacts CIA agent Paloma (Ana de Armas), so slinky in a black dress that she looks like a model.

There’s more to Paloma than good looks; she’s an actual dynamo in stiletto heels, punching and kicking goons with as much efficiency as Bond. Unfortunately, her screen time is limited to an explosive evening in Havana at a lavish ball hosted by the evil SPECTRE organization.

Meanwhile, there’s a new Agent 007 in Nomi (Lashana Lynch), an equal match to James Bond who is not about to give her license-to-kill digits to the retired veteran, until possibly convenient to do so.

Maybe it’s a matter of convenience, but the chief villain Safin (Rami Malek), a terrorist bent on destroying at least half of the globe with a deadly toxin, has a link to Madeleine that is anything but benevolent.

While his old boss M (Ralph Fiennes) seems cagey, Bond gets an assist from Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) and gadget-whiz Q (Ben Whishaw) for the inevitable showdown at Safin’s remote lair and its underground laboratory with bio-weapons that must be destroyed to save the world.

At one point, Bond meets up again with his old foe Blofeld (Christoph Waltz), now caged like Hannibal Lecter but lacking necessary menace. It can also be said that Safin is a lightweight antagonist; his mechanical, muted manner does not convey the intended threat of real danger.

Inevitably, film buffs are likely to continue the debate over the finest actor as Agent 007 and the best of the official twenty-five films (not counting Peter Sellers and David Niven in 1967’s “Casino Royale” and Connery’s return in “Never Say Never Again”).

Nostalgia and an appreciation for the Ian Fleming novels may dictate Sean Connery remains the reigning champ. Arguably, “From Russia With Love,” the most pure spy story with minimal gadgets, and “Goldfinger” will rank at the top of the best entries.

Daniel Craig, for all of his weariness and emotional baggage never carried by the likes of Connery, deserves a spot near the top, if for no other reason than his first outing in “Casino Royale” was so spectacularly thrilling.

“No Time to Die,” which has emotional parallels to “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” is a fitting ending to the Daniel Craig era, with surprises that should not be spoiled.

A thrilling yet disturbing twist to the climax of “No Time To Die” is certain to engage some passionate discourse for the fan base. One can only wonder what will be the next character arc for a new Bond.

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

The summer television press tour has come to an end and there are plenty of options on cable networks for new shows this fall. Some programs will be very topical.

Take, for instance, the post-apocalyptic saga spanning multiple timelines of “Station Eleven” on HBO Max. This limited drama series tells the stories of survivors of a devastating flu as they attempt to rebuild and re-imagine the world anew.

Based on the bestseller by Emily St. John Mandel, “Station Eleven” feels like a prescient cautionary tale of COVID-19, even though the book was published in 2014 and the first episodes were shot in early 2020 just before the pandemic hit.

During the press tour, executive producer Jessica Rhoades may have been wishful in saying this show “speaks to what, hopefully, the audience is excited to watch and see next.” That may be true if joy is to be experienced coming out on the other side for the survivors.

Since the passing of Hugh Hefner and lifestyle changes in the sexual revolution, the Playboy empire is not what it used to be. Now along comes the A&E network with the 10-part series “Secrets of Playboy.”

Yes, it sounds like an expose, and during the press tour a network executive noted that the Playboy brand was “a beacon of progress for some, but also a gateway to a much darker world,” and a “toxic environment that became an unchecked playground for nefarious conduct.”

Interesting stories are certain to be told from former playmates. Sondra Theodore was only 19 when she became Hefner’s girlfriend, then about three decades his junior. During the time of her relationship with the publisher, Sondra became Playmate of the Month in July 1977.

Another participant in the program is Miss January 1973, Mike Garcia, who later became the director of Playmate Promotions. In the past, Miki testified to sordid details of the Playboy empire that may surface in the series.

During the press conference, Miki claimed that while traveling on a promotion, “something terrible happened to me, and you’ll see it in the documentary.” Mike tried to monitor the women, but stated that she “couldn’t really protect them from Hugh Hefner.”

With a premiere date uncertain but a series that should come out near Halloween, AMC’s “Rag doll” is a modern-day Faustian thriller based on the novel by Daniel Cole about six people that have been murdered, dismembered and sewn into the shape of one grotesque body.

Assigned to the case are London detective Nathan Wolf (Henry Lloyd-Hughes and his best friend and boss Emily Baxter (Thalissa Teixeira), joined by the unit’s new recruit Lake Edmunds (Lucy Hale).

The “Rag Doll Killer” taunts the police by sending them a list of his next victims, with Wolf’s name among them. And with those victims to protect, the police heroes soon come under intense scrutiny.

The new AMC+ original series “Kin” is about a close-knit Dublin clan that must face the consequences of their choices. It’s more a Shakespearean drama than a gangland crime story.

To be sure, this fictional Irish family is embroiled in a gangland war, and executive Dan McDermott boldly claimed that this “series will engage and resonate with viewers, especially those who love ‘Gangs of London,” which remains one the top titles on AMC+.”

While we are on the topic of crime, the History Channel’s nonfiction series “Great Escapes with Morgan Freeman” will focus on the most daring convict escapes from some of the most notorious prisons in the world.

Freeman, who famously starred as a wise inmate in “The Shawshank Redemption,” hosts the dramatic re-enactments of escapes from infamous prisons like Alcatraz, with dynamic storytelling and cutting-edge visual effects.

During the press tour, answering a question about whether “Shawshank” resonated with him during the program, Freeman said he doesn’t “have much trouble separating fact, reality, from movies, things like that.”

For a change of pace, Lifetime will launch the movie series “Highway to Heaven,” which follows Angela (Jill Scott), an angel sent back to Earth by God to help others in need.

In the premiere movie, Angela assumes the role of a temporary school counselor and finds herself working alongside principal Bruce (Barry Watson) as she intervenes in the lives of a troubled student Cody (Ben Daon) and his father Jeff (Robert Moloney) after a death in the family.

Have you ever seen comedian Sebastian Maniscalco perform one of his stand-up routines on a streaming service? This guy has a hilarious take on everyday life, pop culture and the Italian American ethos. His facial expressions and body language are brilliantly funny.

Maybe it’s a stereotype that Italians love food, but that would explain the new Discovery+ series “Well Done with Sebastian Maniscalco,” which is about the comedian’s obsession with food, but don’t dare call him a “foodie.”

Sebastian takes a deep dive into the gastronomic world from every angle, blending his curiosity and humor into the mix of a cooking show. His signature social observations and commentary lift “Well Done” into a rarefied space.

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

Upcoming Calendar

28Oct
10.28.2021 7:30 am - 8:30 am
Rotary Club of Middletown
28Oct
10.28.2021 9:00 am - 11:00 am
Lakeport Retail and Franchise Opportunities
28Oct
10.28.2021 9:00 am - 12:00 pm
Lake County Planning Commission
28Oct
10.28.2021 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Nature & You: The Potter Valley Project
30Oct
10.30.2021 9:00 am - 12:00 pm
Rodman Preserve Saturday self-guided walks
31Oct
10.31.2021
Halloween
1Nov
11.01.2021 5:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Lake County 29'ers Cribbage Club Meeting
2Nov
11.02.2021
Election Day
2Nov
11.02.2021 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Rotary Club of Clear Lake

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