Category Archives: entertainment news

Can this PR stunt explode, too?

Photo by Brent N Clarke/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Kanye West is running for president of the United States as part of some weird publicity stunt.

I am certain of it. The rapper/reality TV spouse/goofball cannot possibly be seriously considering things such as, oh, how to lead a nation out of a pandemic or waging rhetorical battle with political foes.

He won’t win. Or at least he shouldn’t win.

Then again, we have the case of Donald Trump, who I am equally certain launched his 2016 presidential campaign as a publicity stunt.

Except that it blew up in all of our faces.

Donald Trump ended up winning against all reasonable odds and expectations. Look at what his fluke victory has gotten us, where it has taken us, what it has produced. We’re in a world of hurt these days because an incompetent buffoon somehow managed to buffalo enough voters in just the right states to get elected leader of the world’s most indispensable nation. Who knew, right?

Well, 2020 isn’t likely to produce a repeat of the political cataclysm that befell the nation four years ago. Then again, if Donald Trump’s victory four years ago taught us anything, we learned that is foolhardy in the extreme to overstate the collective intelligence of American voters.

Social distancing produces this kind of entertainment

OK, there’s so very little positive to come out of the coronavirus pandemic … then there’s this.

I am seeing a number of these “social distancing” videos coming forth from musicians who aren’t performing in the same room. They manage to cobble together versions of classic tunes. The video that accompanies this brief blog post is one of them. I have watched multiple times a pair of videos assembled by The Doobie Brothers singing two of their many hits.

I can’t stop smiling when I see these pieces of artwork.

Man, technology can produce some wondrous things.

Will this feeling of community outlive the pandemic?

The world is looking for a glimmer of hope in this time of darkness.

Believe it or not, I think we can see it out there. Indeed, the coronavirus pandemic that has gripped the planet is producing plenty of shining lights.

One of them must be this sense of community many of us are feeling. I am at this moment watching the “One World Together” special on TV. The message has been delivered loudly and with crystal clarity: We need to keep loving each other once this crisis passes into history.

The medical experts are telling us it will pass. They guarantee it. Yes, we are grieving at the death and sickness that has felled so many of our fellow human beings. However, efforts by celebrities, medical experts and scientists remind us of what might be considered a cliché, that “We’re in this together.”

I will take that message with me long past the time we can return to some semblance of a normal life.

Yes, we are responding well as a human community. We all understand the social distancing requirements, and we’re adhering to them; we are devoting greater attention to personal hygiene; we’re learning how to spend more time at home; we’re helping our neighbors, our friends, our loved ones.

We also are responding with a sense of love that we don’t usually express out loud. Frankly, it’s a feeling I enjoy experiencing. I don’t want it to end even if we get the “all clear” that we’ve defeated the pandemic.

My sincerest of hopes right now — at this defining moment — is that the sense of community and oneness we’re feeling lives well past the crisis that has gripped us hard.

I believe it will.

It’s been 50 years, really?

Oh, man. I cannot believe this got past me … but it did.

On April 10, 1970 — that’s 50 years ago, folks — Paul McCartney announced casually in an interview that The Beatles had broken up. The music ended. The greatest rock ‘n roll band in history was no more.

That’s how it came about. Paul McCartney told us.

I have said before that the group founded by John Lennon, who then asked Paul McCartney to join him, who then brought along George Harrison to play with the two of them and then hired Ringo Starr to replace the drummer that none of them liked … they helped raise me.

I saw their performance on the “Ed Sullivan Show” in 1964. I followed them closely. I came of age about that time. Their music would end up fueling the my musical taste right on through to the present day.

They recorded so many great songs. They wrote such wonderful music. They, indeed, helped a generation of young people come of age. They helped raise us all.

Of all the music I have heard over the years, one song stands out. It is the only song I remember where I was when I heard it for the first time. It was the second half of a song I heard initially in September 1968. I turned on a transistor radio in a U.S. Army barracks in Fort Lewis, Wash. I listened to the end of a song that went on seemingly forever. It was “Hey Jude.”

I fell in love with that melody. On the spot. Right then and there.

It became a sort of anthem for me. I cannot hear it enough.

Less than two years after hearing what I consider to be the greatest song ever recorded, they would call it quits. They went their separate ways.

It was — gulp! — 50 years ago. Wow! I still miss those guys.

Still missing this iconic musician after all these years

I am one of the few Americans who was not watching “Monday Night Football” the night we all got the shocking news.

Howard Cosell, a friend of John Lennon, told the world that a gunman shot John “twice in the back,” that he was “rushed to Roosevelt Hospital … dead on arrival.”

I was watching an NBC show that night 39 years ago. They, too, broke in and stunned the world.

Oh, how I still miss this man. He was just 40 years of age when his comeback from a five-year hiatus from public view came to its tragic end. I am left to wonder, as are all fans of John Lennon’s enormous talent, what kind of legacy would he have built had he been allowed to live.

The man who essentially founded The Beatles led this band of musicians into the cultural stratosphere. Sure, he had plenty talent playing alongside. The careers of Sir Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and the late George Harrison all flourished after the band ended its professional existence in 1970. The three surviving members of the band collaborated in 1995 to finish a couple of songs that John had written; they released them that year with “Free As a Bird” being named the top single of the year. I remember the Grammy award presenter declaring, “I can’t believe this: 25 years after they broke up … the winner is The Beatles!

George, too, is now gone.

John Lennon’s legacy already is rich. We are left only now with the memory of what he was able to accomplish as a musician, a songwriter and an advocate for peace, and ponder what might have happened had fate not intervened that night in New York City.

As for the gunman who took him from us, well … may he continue to rot in prison.

Hodgetown earns honor, sending Center City director ‘over the moon’

Beth Duke is beaming with pride … and why not?

The Amarillo Center City director nominated Hodgetown, the city’s new downtown ballpark, for recognition as the best downtown construction project in Texas. Hodgetown then got the honor.

Duke, a lifelong Amarillo resident and a big-time promoter of its downtown revival, should be proud. So should the city for this latest honor granted to the shiny new ballpark that is home to the city’s championship-winning Texas League baseball team, the Sod Poodles.

The award comes from the Texas Downtown Association. It honors the ballpark’s look, its ambience, the attraction it proved to be for baseball fans and other Texas Panhandle residents.

As Duke told the Globe-News, where she worked for more than 30 years before taking over the Center City directorship: “I think you all know how proud I am of every building and the progress we’ve made in our beautiful downtown. I nominated Hodgetown for Best New Construction in a Texas (city) of more than 50,000 people. I was so gratified to be a finalist and the night we won, I was just over the moon.”

She should be over the moon.

I have taken great joy in applauding the city’s effort to build this structure, formerly known as the “multipurpose event venue.” It is a gorgeous home field for the Sod Poodles. More than that, it is a fabulous addition to downtown’s urban landscape.

Hodgetown came to fruition after a sometimes-rocky ride. I am more than willing to acknowledge harboring a doubt or two that the city could complete the project. There was turmoil on the City Council relating to the future of what was called the MPEV. Top-level city management went through a wholesale change with resignations of key personnel, including the city manager.

Despite the occasional ruckus at City Hall, the ballpark was completed. Hodgetown opened this past spring. The Sod Poodles played some great Class AA baseball in a ballpark full of cheering of fans.

Now comes a high honor from a downtown group that bestows honors that cities can use to their marketing advantage.

Beth Duke is the perfect advocate for Amarillo’s downtown district. She is a happy woman today. I am proud of her and of the city for the steps it has taken toward rebuilding its downtown business and entertainment district.

Well done.

Stand firm, Ellen, in your friendship with ‘W’

I hereby endorse Ellen DeGeneres in her declaration that she is friends with former President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush.

The comedian is taking flak because she happened to attend a Dallas Cowboys football game at AT&T Stadium, where she sat next to the former first couple, had a few laughs and enjoyed each other’s company.

DeGeneres noted out loud the other day that it does strange for a “gay liberal” such as herself to be friends with a “conservative” such as President Bush. Which makes me respond: So what? 

Ellen is taking heat from some in the entertainment industry. Actor Mark Ruffalo commented via Twitter that Bush’s policies are anathema to the “kindness” that DeGeneres mentioned in her comments about her friendship with “W.”

Look, I get it. I am not “friends” with the former president, although I have had the pleasure of meeting him three times over the years. The first time was on an elevator at the 1988 GOP convention in New Orleans; the second time was in 1995, when I interviewed the then-new Texas governor at his office at the State Capitol; the third time was in Amarillo in 1998 when he was running for re-election as governor.

My impression of President Bush is clear: He is the kind of guy I would love to have a beer with … except that he no longer drinks alcohol. He is affable, jovial, personable, humble and all-round good guy. His politics stink, but as Mitt Romney once said during the Al Smith Memorial Dinner in 2012 when he appeared on the same dais as President Barack Obama against whom he was running, “There is more to life than politics.”

So it is with Ellen DeGeneres and President Bush.

Stand firm, Ellen.

What if John Lennon had lived?

I am acutely aware that today would have been John Lennon’s birthday. He would have turned 79. He didn’t make it nearly that far into his life.

A gunman ended it all for John in December 1980. He died at 40.

I want to take the opportunity today while marking John Lennon’s birthday to take stock of what might have transpired had this genius been allowed to live. We, of course, cannot know with any certainty.

I’ll let my heart speak for a brief moment.

My ticker tells me John Lennon would have continued to make memorable music. He would have written lyrics that stand the test of time. He would have built on his already priceless body of work, most of it of course in tandem with his songwriting partner, Sir Paul McCartney. Might they have reconciled enough to re-form their partnership? Oh, one only can hope they might.

Hey, it’s also quite possible that John Lennon would have been knighted just as Sir Paul and Sir Richard Starkey — aka Ringo Starr — have been honored by their queen. I only can imagine the statement a Sir John Lennon would have issued upon getting this honor from the crown. I’ll add as well that George Harrison, who died in 2001, deserved to be knighted. Alas, it won’t happen.

John Lennon was my favorite Beatle. It might be only because we shared the same name. In reality, I was drawn by his quirkiness, his snarky approach to celebrity and his biting wit.

The boy could sing, too.

All of this is my way of wishing fate had dealt John Lennon a better than what he was forced to play.

I will miss this genius forever. Happy birthday, John.

‘Abbey Road’ back to No. 1 … imagine that

This bit of news really doesn’t surprise me, but then again it is still quite astonishing.

“Abbey Road,” The Beatles’ iconic final album, was remastered and reissued recently to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the album’s initial release.

Then we hear that it shot to No. 1 on the United Kingdom record charts — a mere 49 years and 252 days after it hit the top of the charts the first time.

Wow! What does this say? Well, it tells me that the super group’s music still holds up. It remains relevant for so many generations of music lovers.

Two members of the group — John Lennon and George Harrison — are deceased. Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr are making new music to this day. Sir Paul is still performing before huge crowds with a show that blows one away; I know, having attended a concert recently at Globe-Life Park down the road in Arlington, Texas.

Still, The Beatles appeal to many millions of young people and, oh yeah, old folks like me.

Rock on, fellas!

Has justice really been delivered to Felicity Huffman?

I’ve been pretty quiet about the school admitting scandal that has swallowed the careers of two prominent Hollywood entertainers: Lori Laughlin and Felicity Huffman. Of course, there have been many others caught up in this scandal.

I have been trying to come to grips with the sentence handed down to Huffman. To be totally candid, I am having trouble believing justice was really delivered to this individual.

She arranged for her daughter to get admitted to a university; she arranged to manipulate her SAT score. She paid some huckster a five-figure sum to assist in this travesty.

What did she get? Fourteen days in prison; a $30,000 fine; a year of supervised release; a term of community service.

Why just 14 days? That’s weird, in my humble view. It seems the sentence might as well have been for 20 minutes in the slammer.

Her lawyers argued she didn’t deserve any time, as it was her “first offense.” Huffman has been contrite. She apologized to the court, to her husband — actor William H. Macy — her daughter, to the world.

Loughlin, meanwhile, has stood by her innocence, challenging the system to put her on trial.

Huffman told the judge she would “try to live a more honest life.” When someone says they’ll “try” to do something, I often take that as a sort of code that they cannot promise to actually carry through with a rock-solid pledge.

There’s just something so very token about a two-week prison sentence. I am unclear what the judge is seeking to do with a wrist-slap on the arm of a wealthy actress.

Let’s just say that other “first offenders” have gotten far worse punishments for far less crimes.