Category Archives: entertainment news

This flag-waver will watch ‘First Man’

Critics of this blog likely won’t believe this, but I am a serious flag-waver. I love Old Glory. Don’t burn it in my presence if you intend to persuade me to sign on to whatever political point you are making.

My love of the flag also has given me some pause about whether I want to see a film. I refer to “First Man,” the story of one of this country’s most magnificent technological achievements.

“First Man” tells the tale of Neil Armstrong’s role as the “first man” to walk on the moon. Armstrong was joined by Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin on that historic – and heroic – Apollo 11 mission that achieved President Kennedy’s goal of “landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth” before the end of the 1960s. The landing occurred on July 20, 1969. JFK didn’t leave to see the mission accomplished.

Why the trepidation about seeing “First Man”? It doesn’t show one of the mission’s most iconic moments: the unfurling of Old Glory on the surface of the moon.

I keep hearing theories as to why the film doesn’t show that moment. One of them has to do with Ryan Gosling, who portrays Armstrong. Gosling is a Canadian and I’ve heard some chatter about Gosling not wanting to unfurl the Stars and Stripes because he ain’t an American.

I believe that’s crap.

I wish the film would depict that moment. Having said all that, I’ll likely see the movie when I return home from an RV trip my wife and are taking at this moment.

There’s a lot more to this story than a simple flag ceremony. As a proud flag-waving, patriotic American I wish they had depicted that moment. President Kennedy likely would have insisted on it. For all I know he might even have boycotted the film because of that moment’s absence.

That’s not me. I’ll see the film and enjoy all the drama that led up to Neil Armstrong’s “one giant leap for mankind.”

MPEV occupant lines up a big-league affiliate

The San Diego Padres are coming back to Amarillo, Texas.

Amarillo’s upcoming minor-league baseball season has cleared yet another hurdle. The Padres used to be affiliated with an earlier Amarillo baseball franchise. They’re back in the fold with the new team that doesn’t yet have a name.

It is getting a ballpark, though. Bit by bit, the multipurpose event venue is going up along Buchanan Street. They hope to have the venue complete by April 2019, when the AA season commences in Amarillo.

Given the progress I’ve seen — albeit from some distance these days — I am no longer going to doubt the project will be done in time for the team to toss out the first pitch next spring.

The San Antonio Missions are moving to the Panhandle from South Texas; San Antonio will be home to a new AAA franchise that is relocating from Colorado Springs, Colo.

The next big question now appears to be: What are they going to call this new Amarillo baseball team?

I’ve done a 180 on this one. I once hated the Sod Poodles name that showed up on the list of finalist names being considered by the Elmore Group, owners of the new Amarillo team.

I am not entirely crazy about the name today, but the thought of the name has grown on me. I now officially hope that Sod Poodles, or some derivation of the name, becomes the name of the new team that will take the field.

But … the city that is remaking its downtown district — with new hotels, entertainment venues and a serious dressing up of street corners — has a new major league baseball affiliation about which it can boast.

Not bad.

Has ‘SNL’ gone too far? Not … in … the … least!

So now some of the chatter out there focuses a bit on “Saturday Night Live” and its treatment of Donald J. Trump and Republican Party.

Has “SNL” gone too far? Hah! The question makes me laugh out loud. It hasn’t in the least gone “too far” in spoofing the president.

I mean, good grief! The show debuted in 1975 when Gerald Ford was president of the United States. Chevy Chase portrayed the president as a stumble-bum, based on the one time President Ford slipped and fell while coming down the stairs of Air Force One.

Dan Aykroyd once portrayed President Carter as an expert on illicit drugs. The late Phil Hartman used to poke fun at President Clinton’s gluttonous fast-food habits; Hartman’s send-ups about President Reagan also were hilarious. Then we had Dana Carvey cracking wise about President Bush 41’s occasional rhetorical non-sequiturs. Will Ferrell made “strategery” a national punch line with his spoofing of President Bush 43. And, of course, Fred Armisen’s Barack Obama made all of us howl.

Donald Trump needs to get over himself. He won’t, of course. The man is fixated on his own image and the idiotic notion that he must be portrayed as something he isn’t, which is an erudite, sophisticated, nuanced politician. He is none of that, as Alec Baldwin’s caricature reveals.

I’ll admit that “SNL” doesn’t hit it out of the park with every sketch. Then again, it has whiffed on several of its previous presidential sketches.

Lighten up, Mr. President. Tell those who comprise your political “base” to settle down, too. It’s all in fun, man!

‘No longer funny’? How does POTUS know that?

Donald J. “TV Comedy Critic in Chief” Trump declares that “Saturday Night Live” is “no longer funny,” it has “no talent” and “no charm.”

How in the world does the president make that judgment? How is he able to discern whether the award-winning comedy sketch TV show is no longer funny?

Oh, he was watching it — one must presume — while the show poked fun at Brett Kavanaugh’s appearance before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.

Oh, but the president said he didn’t watch it, but … he did offer some praise for Kanye “Kim Kardashian’s Husband” West for wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat during his appearance on the show. So, which is it, Mr. President? Did you watch or didn’t you? Oh wait! He said in his tweet that “word is that” West wore the hat. Nice dodge, Mr. President.

Not that it matters. The leader of the free world surely ought to have plenty to do to instead of wasting his time critiquing a show that he says is “no longer funny.”

This is the kind of response that presidents dating back to Gerald Ford have been getting from “Saturday Night Live.” None of them liked the parody and the occasional ridicule dished out by the writers and the comics.

But, hey. It goes with the territory. At least that used to be the case.

The system worked: Cosby sent to prison

Many of us have griped on occasion about the occasional inequity of the U.S. criminal justice system.

I have to say, though, that today the system worked well.

A judge in Pennsylvania sentenced the man once known as “America’s Dad” to three to 10 years in a state prison and declared William Cosby to be a “violent  sexual predator.”

Bill Cosby’s status as a comic superstar, TV star, iconic figure didn’t matter as the judge sent Cosby to the slammer. What’s more, his name will be etched forever on a sex offender registry when and/or if he gets out of prison; the man is 81 years of age.

A jury convicted Cosby of drugging and raping Andrea Constand in 2004. Other women have come forward to allege that he had done the same thing to them.

I take no joy in applauding the sentence and Cosby’s new status as a prison convict. Some years ago, my wife and I attended an event at West Texas A&M University that featured Cosby, who brought the house down with a rip-roaring stand-up routine.

That was then. The here and now tells us something quite different about Cosby and what a trial jury determined him to be.

He is getting precisely what he deserves.

Willie gets flak for backing Beto? Shocking!

Willie Nelson wants to play a free concert to gin up support for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke.

And to think that some Texans — maybe many of them — are upset that the Red-Headed Stranger would be backing O’Rourke in his bid to defeat Republican incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz in the upcoming midterm election.

Shocking, I tell ya. Simply shocking that Nelson would back a Democrat.

Who did these critics suspect Nelson would back. Is he going to go with Cruz, the stuffed-shirt conservative? Hardly.

This backlash against Willie Nelson’s support for O’Rourke is hilarious to me. Nelson has made no secret of his support for progressive politicians and policies during his many years as a top-tier entertainer and occasional political activist.

Sure, he hails from Abbott, a Central Texas town full of God-fearing political conservatives. Does that mean ol’ Willie is going to follow along? Of course it doesn’t mean that at all.

Nelson appeared on “The View” talk show this week. “I love flak,” he said. “We’re not happy ’til they’re not happy.”

“Everybody has an opinion,” he added added. “Everybody has a right to an opinion. I think I have one too.”

So, let the man sing and play that old guitar — the one that looks as though it’s been run over by a diesel tractor — on behalf of Beto O’Rourke.

His fans ought to give their protest over Nelson’s support of Beto a rest. What in the name of country croonin’ did they expect?

Aretha Franklin: totally incomparable

Aretha Franklin’s death Thursday came at an ironic time.

Yes, the world has lost a pure treasure. Her voice carried a message that inspired millions of Americans. She loved God and she carried that message of faith throughout her extraordinary 76 years of life on Earth.

Let me recall, though, that she left this world on the anniversary of the day that another American musician and entertainer of some note left us. I refer to Elvis Aaron Presley, who died on Aug. 16, 1977.

I want to recall what another memorable entertainer once said of Presley. Ol’ Blue Eyes, Frank Sinatra, said in tribute to Elvis that he was one “who would never be compared to anyone else.”

Let it be said as well of the Queen of Soul, Aretha Louise Franklin.

She was far beyond compare. May she rest in peace. May her voice stay with us forever and ever.

Amarillo Opera gets some serious star power … woo hoo!

Let me stipulate right up front that I know next to nothing about opera. I don’t know an aria from a contata.

However, I do know about opera star power and how it translate to something so good for whatever an opera star can bring to whatever he or she touches.

With that, I want to say that the Amarillo (Texas) Opera has just lifted its star power way, way up by hiring Mary Jane Johnson as its new executive director.

I cannot claim to know Johnson well, although we are acquainted. I do know a good bit of her, particularly that she has performed internationally for more than three decades. She has sung at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. She had the good fortune to be discovered by a pretty good tenor, the late Luciano Pavarotti, who heard her sing in 1981.

As Panhandle PBS reported: “The Board of Trustees of Amarillo Opera has great confidence in Ms. Johnson(‘s) vision and leadership of Amarillo Opera and looks forward to continuing the outstanding work of one of Amarillo’s great cultural assets,” according to the release.

Johnson hails from Pampa. I know that’s a long way from where she’s been and, indeed, where she is going.

As for the fellow she replaces, David O’Dell, he left when the opera board didn’t renew his contract. I cannot comment on the circumstances surrounding O’Dell’s departure. I will say that he has become a good friend over the years. I, too, wish him well as he pursues other opportunities, which I am certain will come his way.

There appear to be some financial concerns regarding the opera, according to Panhandle PBS: Robert Hansen, president-elect of the opera’s board of directors, said the company is on “shaky ground” financially but not in immediate danger of folding.

“We need to take action to preserve the opera,” he said. “We need to be more tightly committed to the original mission of Amarillo Opera, one key point of which is to nurture local talent and to serve the community.”

Again, here is where Mary Jane Johnson’s star power can potentially bring a lot of healing to Amarillo’s Opera.

Clear your throat, Mrs. Johnson, so that you will be heard.

Steven Seagal: Renaissance Man

You’ve no doubt heard of Steven Seagal. He’s a martial arts expert who’s done some films that highlight his fighting skill.

Let’s face it. He can’t act his way out of wet paper bag.

He’s now been enlisted by Donald J. Trump’s BFF, Vladimir Putin to — and this is so good — work on improving U.S.-Russia relations.

Wow, man! Isn’t that right in Steven Seagal’s wheelhouse? Actually, um, no. It isn’t.

Seagal is a Russian citizen these days. He appears frequently on Russian state TV to talk about, oh I don’t know, this or that.

Now he’s been tasked with shoring up Russia’s relations with the United States?

I suppose I shouldn’t look askance at this too blatantly. Other entertainment figures have assumed similar roles in the past, although I am hard-pressed to name any of them at this moment.

Still … Steven Seagal?

Start packing up, Coach Meyer

This is just me, but it looks for all the world as though another noted athletic figure is about to be shown the door.

Ohio State University head football coach Urban Meyer is now on “administrative leave” while the school — using an outside investigative firm — looks into allegations that Meyer looked the other way while one of his assistants was abusing his wife.

The “Me Too” movement well might be set to score another “victory” in its effort to eradicate this kind of disgraceful behavior.

As ESPN.com has noted, Meyer attained college football greatness leading a team — at the University of Florida — at a time when there was much greater tolerance of players’ misconduct.

Read the ESPN story here.

The Ohio State story is quite a bit different. It involves an assistant coach Zach Smith, who allegedly was physically assaulting his now former wife, Courtney Smith. Meanwhile, Urban and others knew about it, but took no action.

Urban Meyer has been perceived for a long time to be one of the good guys in intercollegiate sports. This story, if it proves true, peels away that veneer more than likely forever.

The “Me Too” movement has arisen out of an increasing societal intolerance of abusive behavior of powerful men. It has ended the careers of men in sports, entertainment and politics. As it should! It has, in the case of Bill Cosby, resulted in a criminal conviction. There likely will be others.

I don’t want Urban Meyer to be the next one to be given the boot. If the OSU investigation proves that, yes, the head coach knew about sexual abuse involving a staff member but looked away … well, the school will have no choice but to fire him.