Wednesday, 30 November 2022

Arts & Life



‘LYLE, LYLE, CROCODILE’ Rated PG

Based on the popular children’s book series about a crocodile living in New York City, “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile” is a natural for family-friendly entertainment that seems increasingly to be in short supply.

The Bernard Waber best-seller seemed right to turn into a musical comedy at the hands of screenwriter Will Davies (“How to Train Your Dragon”) for a film directed by the team of Will Speck and Josh Gordon (“Office Christmas Party” comedy).

Javier Bardem’s Hector P. Valenti, a low-rent magician trying to get his shot in the entertainment business by appearing on a televised talent show, showcases an animal magic act that fails miserably.

Searching for a new angle, he stumbles upon a baby crocodile in the rear of an exotic pet shop and is stunned by the animal’s singing talent. Dollar signs light up his eyes, thinking he’s found the golden ticket.

Hector doesn’t account for stage fright happening to a reptile, and when Lyle the crocodile reaches full size he ends up living in the attic of a Manhattan brownstone apartment building.

Hector takes off on a road trip, leaving Lyle behind.
When the Primm family moves to New York City, adjustments need to be made to big city living, but nothing proves more startling than the encounter with a crocodile in the attic.

Taking second place for a surprise is the Primms’ most unneighborly new neighbor Mr. Grumps (Brett Gelman), who lives alone with a cat suffering from irritable bowel syndrome and takes it upon himself to enforce HOA rules as if he were a member of the Stasi.

Scoot McNairy and Constance Wu are the parents, and young son Josh (Winslow Fegley) struggles to adapt to his new school and make new friends. That changes when he discovers the singing crocodile (voiced by Shawn Mendes) who enjoys bubble baths and caviar.

Josh bonds with Lyle and they go on evening forays for dumpster diving because the crocodile has an appetite to match his size. Even the neighbor’s cat Loretta joins these outings.

At first alarmed by Lyle’s presence, Josh’s parents soon become as fond of their new reptilian friend, and since this kind of movie needs a heartwarming tale, a certain fate awaits Lyle when the city officials start poking around.

Never fear, however, that a film like “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile” which is geared primarily to kids, fails to reach a satisfactory conclusion. Even adults in tow with the young ones should find amusement with the antics of the charming reptile and the spoiled feline.

‘THE BAT’ BLU-RAY AND DVD RELEASE

Arguably, the fallout of the pandemic continues to impact the quality of films being released. Maybe, it’s just me but nostalgia is taking hold to revisit vintage cinema that is often the staple of Turner Classic Movies.

What could be more classic that Vincent Price, an actor in television and radio, but also acclaimed for stage performances and whose first film role was the leading man in a comedy? And yet, his career is mostly defined for gothic horror films.

On Oct. 25, The Film Detective, a classic film restoration and streaming company, will release the 1959 horror classic, “The Bat,” on special-edition Blu-ray and DVD.

Famous mystery writer Cornelia van Gorder (Agnes Moorehead) has rented a downtrodden country estate called “The Oaks,” owned by banker John Fleming (Harvey Stephens) who has embezzled a considerable sum of money.

A series of gruesome murders have taken place in the mansion by a mysterious criminal known as “The Bat.” Vincent Price’s Dr. Malcolm Wells figures into the picture because of his friendship with the banker.

Fleming confides in his friend the good doctor about the ill-gotten gains of one million dollars in bonds that are hidden in the family mansion and offers to share the loot upon help in faking his death.

Taking up residence in the mansion shared with a bunch of other guests, Dr. Wells will search for the hiding place, and then the predator with steel claws shows up to rip his victims to shreds. Who is this villain that goes on a killing spree?

Was it the butler? No, that’s too easy and simple, even though he comes under suspicion. What we get is an impressive gallery of weirdos who are guaranteed to give you the creeps. Which of them is the mysterious killer? That’s for you to find out.

The beauty of this release of “The Bat” is the restoration of a pristine print from original 35mm archival elements and the host of bonus features that fans have come to expect.

Notably, the release includes nine archival radio re-broadcasts featuring the iconic Vincent Price in everything from the popular radio drama “Suspense” to a comedic performance for CBS Radio Workshop in “Speaking of Cinderella.”

Bonus features of “The Bat” includes a full-color booklet with an essay, “The Case of the Forgotten Author,” by professor and film scholar Jason A. Ney, and an all-new, original production, “The Case for Crane Wilbur,” the writer and director of “The Bat.”

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

Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

Victoria Chang has an uncanny capacity to contain, in the compact machine of a well-honed poem, so much emotion and meaning.

She explores such a core element of what connects us as human beings — the capacity to remember and to forget.

“Homecoming” proposes, convincingly, that our earliest memories are likely owned by our mothers, and their deaths end an elemental story inside of us.

Homecoming
By Victoria Chang

The birds come back
but they don't tell us stories.
Their wings remember nothing,
are never knowledge.
We don't remember our birth,
when a mother dies, it's gone.


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 Victoria Chang, “Homecoming” from The Trees Remember Everything (Copper Canyon Press, 2022). Poem reprinted by permission of the author and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2022 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.

Corine Pearce discusses “Divided Lines” by Jacob Meders with students during a field trip to the “Earth, Sky, and Everything In Between” exhibit.

MIDDLETOWN, Calif. — “Earth, Sky, and Everything in Between,” Lake County’s first contemporary Native American art exhibit, closes Monday, Oct. 10, at the Middletown Art Center.

This Saturday, Oct. 8, you can gain insight into what being a contemporary Pomo basket weaver, jeweler or mixed media artist means to the artists themselves.

Their responses will be varied but include stories that raise awareness about the history and heritage of the first people of this place, who are still here. They carry, into the present and future, the cultural practices of their ancestors using both traditional and contemporary materials.

“Conversations with Artists” will provide an introduction to the final weaving workshop of the year-long “Weaving Baskets, Weaving Bridges” project. The workshop which will focus on basic coiling for basketry.

Activities begin at 11 a.m. and run to 4 p.m. with conversations with artists from 11 a.m. until 12:30 p.m.

Preregistration for participation at MAC or viewing on Zoom is required. Please visit www.middletownartcenter.org/weaving to learn more and register.

MAC’s year long Weaving Baskets, Weaving Bridges is a cross cultural collaboration that culminated in this unique and powerful collection of contemporary art work by 31 Native artists. Conversations this weekend include artists Robin Meely, Ali Meders-Knight, Eloisa Oropeza, Fred Briones, Denise Davis and Gemma Benton, among others.

During his visit to the gallery, Robinson Rancheria Tribal Chair Beniakem Cromwell said, “It’s wonderful that there is an opportunity for Native artists to display their work in Lake County. It feels like our voice is being heard here, at home.”

In the final weeks of the exhibit, 550 students grades third to 12 have participated in field trips to the exhibit. Led by cultural educators and in partnership with MAC artists, most students toured the gallery, then made collagraph prints inspired by the display using a professional printing press in the MAC studio. These youth now have an increased awareness of the history and original culture of this place.

Experience this unique and historic exhibit Thursday through Monday, 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and First Friday, Oct. 7, from 10:30 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. It’s free to the public. For a holistic experience of this powerful and historic exhibit, register for the weaving workshop and artists’ conversations at MAC.

The WEAVING project and Earth, Sky, and Everything in Between exhibit are funded in part through the generosity of Middletown Rancheria, Robinson Rancheria, Big Valley Rancheria, Charlotte Griswold, community members and the California Arts Council, a state agency.

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

To find out more about Earth Sky and Everything in Between or other programs, events, engagement opportunities, and ways to support the MAC’s efforts to weave the arts and culture into the fabric of life in Lake County, visit www.middletownartcenter.org or call 707-809-8118.

MAC staff members install the Belonging exhibit. Courtesy photo.

MIDDLETOWN, Calif. — Middletown Art Center invites the public to its 47th exhibit opening, “Belonging,” Saturday, Oct. 15, from 6 to 8 p.m.

Come see the new display, enjoy the work and meet the artists.

During the opening, visitors can participate in collaborative art making that expresses a sense of belonging to place and to Lake County’s arts and culture community.

Belonging is a deep and primal need to feel a part of something larger than ourselves, be it family, tribe, religion, culture, gender identity or place.

Feelings around belonging and/or alienation are central to the human experience and a core part of our ability to thrive.

Without a sense of belonging, we are apt to drift into despair and, as we often see in the animal kingdom, perish.

Both familiar and new local and regional artists including several Native American artists who participated in MAC’s most recent show, “Earth, Sky, and Everything In Between,” are featured in the new exhibit.

Their work speaks to belonging in multiple ways and is sometimes edgy, sometimes romantic, cultural, gender-based, place-based or formal.

“Questions and notions around the sense of belonging underscored MAC’s year-long cross-cultural ‘Weaving Baskets, Weaving Bridges’ project through weaving workshops, stories, and conversations about roots, cultural identity, historical trauma, and otherness with Native American cultural educators and artists,” said MAC’s artistic director Lisa Kaplan. “Belonging organically emerged as the theme for our next show.”

As Brenee Brown wrote in her book “Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone,” “True belonging is not passive. It’s a practice that requires us to be vulnerable, get uncomfortable, and learn how to be present with people without sacrificing who we are.”

“Belonging” will be on view through Jan. 8, Thursday through Monday, 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., or by appointment. It’s free to the public.

A virtual tour will be available by the end of October on MAC’s website.

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

To find out more about “Belonging” and other programs, events, arts and cultural engagement opportunities, and ways to support the MAC’s efforts to weave the arts and culture into the fabric of life in Lake County, visit www.middletownartcenter.org or call 707-809-8118.

Have you heard about Great American Community’s free direct-to-consumer app, with its launch of 15 all-new original short-form series featuring well-known experts at the top of their fields? It could be news to a lot of people.

This unique programming offers fresh advice and inspirational stories from each host with topics in the field of cooking, fashion, lifestyle, gardening, pets, parenting, DIY, relationships, philanthropy, fitness, wellness and devotions, among others.

The app, which will be available in mobile app stores and on connected devices, will allow the viewing of multiple episodes of all series being available on day one and new episodes premiering on regularly scheduled days throughout the year.

From healthy cooking with Danica McKellar to organizing Christmas decorations with Cameron Mathison, each episode will focus on seasonal themes, celebrations and everyday moments, with new episodes premiering all year long — with no offseason.

In a press announcement, Bill Abbott, President and CEO of Great American Media, expressed the corporation’s thrill “to be launching Great American Community with fifteen new, always-on series that are topical, relatable and hosted by our growing family of recognizable talent.”

“This new platform represents an important evolution of the company’s digital strategy and gives our passionate fans a fun and engaging new way to interact with our stars in a trusted, family-friendly environment, 365 days a year.”

“The Modern Mom with Debbie Matenopoulos” features host Debbie Matenopoulos (“The View”) sharing delicious easy-to-master recipes, fashion and beauty advice, and all the tips and tricks she has learned in her two-decade career being a television host and lifestyle expert.

Larissa Wohl, a pet adoption advocate, will bring heartwarming and uplifting segments in her series with weekly animal adoptions and shelter spotlights, featuring people doing extraordinary things in “Giving & Caring with Larissa Wohl.”

In “Affordably Fabulous with Lauren Makk,” interior design expert Lauren Makk (“Design Star: Next Gen”) will share tricks and tips to achieve a fabulous life on a budget. We are sensing a pattern of tips and tricks on a number of these shows.

Beauty expert and daytime TV staple Kym Douglas (“The Ellen Show”) offers beauty and skin care tips, fashion advice, devotionals and ways to feel your most beautiful inside out — all presented with laughter and love in “Beauty and Blessings with Kym Douglas.”

“Eden Living with Shirley Bovshow” features landscaping artist and expert gardener Shirley Bovshow (“Welcome to Great American Christmas”) teaching you how to love and care for all the plants and flowers in your garden.

After the recent heat wave and the pleas for us to reduce watering outside, Bovshow’s advice for the care and attending to plants may come a little too late for many of us.

“A Beautiful Life with Lawrence Zarian” stars fashion maven, author and TV presenter Lawrence Zarian (“The Kelly Clarkson Show”), who will uplift and inspire women of every shape and size through fashion and sharing stories from his podcast.

Lifestyle expert Lizzy Mathis, founder of The Cool Mom Company, is a powerhouse who reminds mamas to put themselves first, reignite personal passions, and keep bringing that cool to motherhood in “All Things Cool with Lizzy Mathis.”

“The Sweet Life with Emily Hutchinson” features celebrity baking sensation Emily Hutchinson (“Christmas Cookie Matchup”) letting you know that everything you ever would want to bake is within reach as she shows you how to bake the most delicious and eye-catching creations.

Southern connoisseur, chef, author and podcast host Jamie Tarence (“Family Savvy”) shares all things Southern living from cooking and baking to fashion and beauty in her series “Southern Savvy with Jamie Tarence.”

Actress and author Mahalia McKellar (“Christmas at Grand Valley”) will share her knowledge as a certified meditation teacher and bring positivity and mindfulness to stress-filled days in “The Mindful Life with Mahalia McKellar.”

“The Good Life with Cameron Mathison” features TV star, host and presenter Cameron Mathison (“General Hospital”) bringing his passion for learning more about creating a healthier life and that knowledge to this series dedicated to a healthier you from the inside out.

One of television’s most beloved actresses, Danica McKellar (“The Wonder Years”), who loves being positive and helping others, will be sharing Bible Bits, Healthy Bits and Math Bits in “Bits of Joy with Danica McKellar.”

Actress and presenter Jill Wagner (“A Merry Christmas Wish”) gives a beautiful glimpse into her life living on a farm in Nashville, including tours of her property, working out, family life, and Soulful Sundays in “Farm and Family with Jill Wagner.”

Celebrity baker and chef Maria Provenzano (“From Scratch with Maria”) will teach you how to bake, cook delicious recipes, and craft for the everyday celebrations in your life in “Everyday Celebrations with Maria Provenzano”).

Everyday Adventures with Trevor Donovan” features one of television’s most recognizable faces, Trevor Donovan (“90210” and “Jingle Bell Princess”) sharing his love of acting, his dogs and the everyday adventures that bring him joy.

Great American Community is part of Great American Media, which owns the cable networks Great American Family and Great American Living.

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

“Time Has Come: Revelations of a Mississippi Hippie,” with cover art by Bob Minkin Photography.


Lester Chambers, lead singer of the Chambers Brothers of 1960s yore and lately of the group, Moonalice, has released his memoirs.

The Chambers Brothers' anthem of Psychedelia, “Time Has Come Today,” ushered the flower children into The Summer of Love in 1967.

The book is titled, “Time Has Come: Revelations of a Mississippi Hippie,” and is co-authored by local writer Thurman Watts.

The release was announced at the recent KPFZ Moonalice benefit concert, where the 82-year-old Chambers exhibited the masterful vocal and harmonica chops that are solely his.

The foreword of “Time Has Come” is written by Robert Darden, professor of journalism and new media at Baylor University.

He is also the former gospel music editor of Billboard Magazine and makes several spot-on observations about the Chambers Brothers, including, they were too rock for folk, too secular for gospel, and too raw, real and passionate for rock.

The book traces the origins of the Chambers family back to 1830 but focuses on the mid-20th century when their family escaped from the farm that they sharecropped on that was owned by a leader of the Ku Klux Klan.

Landing in California, the Chambers Brothers eventually signed a recording contract with a major label, only to discover that they were still sharecropping — for the label.

Through Lester Chambers’ lens, this story details the mercurial rise of the Chambers Brothers and the decision by Lester Chambers to go it alone.

Glimpses of larger-than-culture figures like Lightnin’ Hopkins, Jimmy Reed, Miles Davis, Betty Davis, John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Augustus Owsley Stanley II, Bob Dylan, Mahalia Jackson, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, and a host of others spring from the pages that span Lester Chambers’ career.

Revisit the hardships of recurring illnesses, the 2013 festival where he was attacked on stage, recovering, returning to the stage and working into his 80s, and the accolades commensurate with the release of the 2022 Grammy-winning documentary, “Summer of Soul,” in which the Chambers Brothers opened and closed the film.

“Time has Come: Revelations of a Mississippi Hippie” is available in paperback and Kindle eBook format. An audiobook will follow in 2003. It is also available at www.lesterchambers.com.

Upcoming Calendar

1Dec
12.01.2022 7:30 am - 8:30 am
Rotary Club of Middletown
1Dec
12.01.2022 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Clearlake City Council
3Dec
12.03.2022 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
3Dec
12.03.2022 11:00 am - 1:00 pm
Weekly writing workshop
6Dec
12.06.2022 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Rotary Club of Clear Lake
8Dec
12.08.2022 7:30 am - 8:30 am
Rotary Club of Middletown
8Dec
12.08.2022 10:00 am - 3:00 pm
Adult Literacy Program in-person tutor training
9Dec
12.09.2022 4:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Hometown Christmas in Lower Lake
10Dec
12.10.2022 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
10Dec
12.10.2022 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Ladies of the Lake Quilt Guild

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