Monday, 22 July 2024

Arts & Life

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North Coast native and author Roy Kesey. Courtesy photo.



LAKE COUNTY – The Friends of the Mendocino College Library are hosting a reading by author Roy Kesey on Thursday, Nov. 8, at 7:30 p.m. in Room 5310 in the Center for the Visual & Performing Arts on the Ukiah campus.


Roy Kesey has strong family ties in Lake County. He is the son of Tom and Jane Kesey, and the grandson of Bill and Carolyn Kesey. Bill Kesey was the longtime superintendent of schools in Lake County, and Tom Kesey has recently retired as the long-serving vice president of business services at Mendocino College.


Roy Kesey grew up in Ukiah, and now lives in Beijing with his wife and children. His fiction, nonfiction and poetry have appeared in more than sixty magazines, including McSweeney's, The Georgia Review and The Iowa Review, and in several anthologies including The Future Dictionary of America, New Sudden Fiction and The Robert Olen Butler Prize Anthology.


His short story "Wait" is included in Best American Short Stories 2007, which was edited by Stephen King. He's also the author of a historical travel guide to the city of Nanjing, a novella called Nothing in the World, and his recent collection of short stories called All Over was published on Oct. 23.


Hailed as one of our bright young authors, Kesey will be reading at Mendocino College and do a book signing following the reading. Mendocino Book Company will be on hand with copies of his work for those who wish to get copies autographed.


For more information regarding the reading, please visit www.mendocino.edu or call John Koetzner at (707) 468-3051.


The Friends of the Mendocino College Library is an affiliate group of the Mendocino College Foundation and it is entering its fourth year of support for readings by authors.

 

 

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CLEARLAKE – For its free film on Nov. 11, Second Sunday Cinema will screen Michael Moore's "Sicko," a documentary that skillfully eviscerates the American health care system where it deserves it.


There are those of us who have seen some of Moore's earlier films, including "Fahrenheit 911," and have wished that he would just shrink a bit – fewer shots of Moore lumbering through the landscape, fewer corny jokes, less frequent views of his ego.


This film is an answer to our prayers. This newly released DVD is far more focused and deft, as Moore steps back to allow those who have suffered when they sought help from their insurance companies to step forward.


We are outraged when we meet the husband and wife who became ill simultaneously, lost their home, and were forced to move into a single room at a resentful son's house. There's the man who cut off two fingers in a wood shop accident. His index finger would have cost $60,000 to reattach, so he had to settle for his middle finger at "only" $12,000.


The most moving part of Moore's film shows him escorting a group of 911 workers to Cuba for free health care. Many of the firefighters, policemen, rescue workers and volunteers at Ground Zero are now suffering from serious respiratory illnesses.


Some have died, and others are unable to work and are finding it almost impossible to pay for the health care they need. Yes, this is classic "agitprop" – but the genuine suffering and gratitude of the ill workers far outshine Moore's pranks.


Shannon Tolson, SSC coordinator, has seen the film, and says that she already knew that health care in this country could not compare with that in the rest of the developed world. "What 'Sicko' did for me," she says, "is make that fact a living, startling reality. I won't be fooled anymore."


An English reviewer of "Sicko" acknowledges that some of its details about health care in Europe and England are a bit skewed. He adds, "But if even half of the stuff about American HMOs in the movie is true, (our National Health Service) and its equivalents do indeed appear utopian by comparison. There's plenty here to be outraged about" in the US.”


"Sicko" will be screened on Nov. 11 at the Clearlake United Methodist Church at 14521 Pearl St. near Mullen. Our doors open at 5:30 p.m. for snacks, chat and seat-grabbing. The film screens at 6 p.m., and is followed by informal discussions, for those so inclined.


As always, there is no charge for this community screening. We hope to see you there!


For information call 279-2957.


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LAKEPORT – There will be magic in the air at Cafe Victoria during the monthly First Saturday Open Mic.


The event will feature Phillip the Magician and other local talent from 4 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 3.


Come by, have a latte and enjoy the show. All talents are welcome including poets, musicians, singers and magicians.


Call Phil to sign up, 263-3391.


Cafe Victoria is located at 301 N. Main St. (corner of Third and Main), Lakeport.


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Allen Markowski playing the guitar. Photo by Joanne Bateni.




LAKEPORT – Two magicians did their tricks and three musicians treated patrons to old and new tunes on Saturday, Nov. 3, during Cafe Victoria's Open Mic event.


Philip Martin, who has been practicing magic for three years, performed card tricks and thimble tricks.


Twelve-year magic show veteran, S2 “d” Clown, made a dollar bill disappear and then pulled it out of a fresh lime. You had to be there to appreciate their great tricks.


Host Phil Mathewson introduced Nice resident Dave Hendricks, who hasn’t played in public since moving here three years ago. His hiatus hasn’t effected his guitar playing and singing style though, as he sang some of his favorite folk songs.


Phil filled in between Dave’s performances with his original songs about Lake County and read some of his poetry.


Allen Markowski, who is involved with school music programs in Clearlake, sang his original songs while strumming his guitar. He did some of the tunes that are favorites with the kids, such as “Boogeyman” and “Lying on a Cloud.” He reminisced with “Twenty Five Years Ago” about how Orange County used to be. He finished with one of my favorites “My Old Bag Lady” which is really funny.


Thanks to the magicians and musicians for a great open mic. If you missed the show come by next month on the first Saturday, which is Dec. 1. Most of the performers have promised to be back from 4 to 6 p.m.


Café Victoria is located at 301 Main St. in Lakeport.


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AMERICAN GANGSTER (Rated R)


Often, a really good gangster film plays out like a grand epic, something akin to “The Godfather” where the broad sweep of crime history suggests a powerful and compelling story. This is the case with the aptly named “American Gangster,” convincing and forceful because it is based on the true story of a dangerously charismatic and ruthless crime boss who created his own power structure in Harlem.


A homegrown product of the streets of New York, black entrepreneur Frank Lucas built his American success story through an innovative means of drug dealing, creating his own impenetrable empire in the African-American neighborhood. “American Gangster,” fitting as the title is, could have easily been called “The Godfather Comes to Harlem.”


Denzel Washington is an interesting choice for vicious drug lord Frank Lucas, but then this talented actor has shown how well he can use his natural charisma in the service of a dishonorable character. Just think of what he was able to do in “Training Day,” and then put him in the hands of acclaimed director Ridley Scott for the finishing touch. Washington's Lucas, nattily dressed and impeccably mannered, is an unflappable crime lord, coolly calculating in his rise to power.


It all begins in 1968, when Lucas, the quiet apprentice to Harlem crime boss Bumpy Johnson (Clarence Williams III), exploits a vacuum in the power structure with Johnson’s untimely death. Using ingenuity and a strict business ethic, Lucas applies his years of street knowledge to gain the upper hand in the drug underworld, as he shunts aside his major Harlem rival in the heroin trade, Nicky Barnes (Cuba Gooding, Jr.).


Making accommodations with Mafia bosses, particularly Dominic Cattano (Armand Assante), Lucas maneuvers himself into a position to rule the inner-city drug trade, due in large measure to his ingenious move to secure pure heroin directly from the source in the Southeast Asia. Working through the contacts of one of his relatives stationed in Thailand with the U.S. military, Lucas arranges direct shipments of illicit drugs into the United States by using the military to have the drugs shipped in the coffins of U.S. soldiers killed in combat during the Vietnam War.


Meanwhile, back in the United States, running on a parallel track, the travails of hard-nosed, honest Essex County cop Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe) are unfolding with the kind of turbulent upheaval that greeted the incorruptible Frank Serpico.


To the chagrin of his fellow officers, Roberts makes no apologies for his righteous demeanor, as this becomes amply clear when he rather ostentatiously returns a suitcase full of nearly one million in drug-dealing cash to the precinct for evidence. He is even less popular with a gang of New York thug cops, particularly the nasty extortionist Detective Trupo (Josh Brolin), who takes it as a personal affront if he doesn’t get a taste of any illegal transaction.


When Roberts is so compromised by his personal integrity, he has little choice other than to head up a federal task force that tries to find the source behind the lucrative sale of Blue Magic on the New York streets. Having acquired his heroin without the use of a middleman, Lucas is able to sell pure drugs at half the cost of heroin cut by too much powder.


To make his operation run smoothly, Lucas imports all his brothers and cousins from North Carolina, setting them up in legitimate small businesses that serve as convenient fronts. He even brings up his mother (Ruby Dee) and buys her a large suburban home that becomes a gathering place for Sunday dinners after attending church.


Perhaps a good son, Lucas is anything but the model citizen as he is known to kill an opponent at point blank range or by setting someone on fire. However, in an odd juxtaposition to his dark side, he operates under a personal code of conduct that sets him apart from other criminals.


For instance, he is courteous and polite, dotes on his mother and attractive wife (Lymari Nadal), and dresses in nice suits, so as not to look like a street pimp. As the Roberts’ investigation unfolds, Lucas is soon in the sights of the task force. In an interesting way, Roberts and Lucas are the opposite sides of the same coin, because both are tenacious and driven to their own ends.


“American Gangster” creates plenty of magic with its impressive, compelling epic story of criminal enterprise and police corruption run amok. Not to disparage the fine work of Russell Crowe, but the film truly belongs to Denzel Washington’s hypnotic character.


The normally volatile Crowe comes off as subdued, perhaps owing to the raft of personal and professional problems that would drive an ordinary man to despair. Washington cuts an impressive figure as the 1970s criminal superstar, making “American Gangster” well worth watching.


DVD RELEASE UPDATE


Few cartoon characters are more popular than the Pink Panther. Our feline friend gets the DVD treatment with the release of “The Pink Panther: A Pink Christmas” on Nov. 6.


The world’s favorite pink-furred cartoon cat, with the manners of an English aristocrat, stars in this family holiday special.


The resourceful panther must rely on clever strategies as he trudges through a cold, snowy New York City, searching for a mouthwatering holiday dinner.


Two additional specials are included in this release, including “Pink at First Sight,” where the hip, cool, but broke and single panther takes a messenger job on Valentine’s Day, meeting the usual assortment of crazy characters.


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


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Karen Priest, foreground, plays the guitar and Tony Jarvis is on the bass in the background. Both are members of the Clear Lake Park Symphony Orchestra.

 


LOWER LAKE – the weather was great for this first Day of Enlightenment in Lower Lake as the Clear Lake Park Symphony Orchestra with Karen Priest and Tony Jarvis played some original and modified old tunes on Saturday, Oct. 27.


Phil Mathewson sang his original Lake County songs and Charlie Rand belted out a few oldies while playing Karen’s guitar. Hand drums were also played by the participants.


Lorna Sue Sides, founder of the Poetry and Music Interlude, did some slam poetry and William of Inner Skies recited some poetry including the Lady of Shallot.


Mathewson also displayed some of his original art work including canvases, gourds, magnets and crosses.


This is the first of many Days of Enlightenment that will be held around the County. Watch www.lakeconews.com for the next scheduled event.


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Upcoming Calendar

23Jul
07.23.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
24Jul
07.24.2024 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
ReCoverCA Homebuyer Assistance Workshop
27Jul
07.27.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
30Jul
07.30.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
3Aug
08.03.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
6Aug
08.06.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
10Aug
08.10.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
13Aug
08.13.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
17Aug
08.17.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
20Aug
08.20.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park

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