Category Archives: entertainment news

Sod Poodles, ballpark add to city’s life and future

I have repurposed this picture from my social media network and I now intend to use it to illustrate a point I think needs making.

Amarillo’s Sod Poodles, the minor-league baseball team that has opened to big crowds at Hodgetown, appear ready to lead the city where my wife and I used to live toward a new and bright future.

We have no regrets about moving away, but I damn sure wish at times I could be there to cheer the “Soddies” on.

I am hearing about a smattering of gripes from those who think the fireworks at the games are too loud. Residents are bitching about the money spent to build the ballpark and to inject new life into the downtown district.

The gripes are to be expected, I suppose. No project, regardless of its value, is deemed as picture-perfect to everyone affected directly or indirectly by it.

Sure, I live some distance away. Thus, I won’t likely hear these gripes in person; I’ll merely read about them on social media. I intend to remind those along my own social media network that the gripes are misplaced and likely misinformed.

The ballpark cost a good bit of dough: $45 million. The city spent more to condemn the Coca-Cola distribution center and relocate it to a business park near Rick Husband-Amarillo International Airport. There have been tax incentives and abatements given to businesses that have sprung up along Polk Street.

I am baffled, though, at the complaints that the city’s effort to spruce up its downtown district is misdirected.

It is not!

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: Every flourishing city in America has at least one thing in common — a vibrant downtown business-and-entertainment district.

I am unable to predict whether Amarillo, Texas, will join the ranks of prosperous American cities. It remains my strong sense, though, that the city is on the way toward that future.

The Amarillo Sod Poodles’ presence in that shiny new sports venue can lead the way.

‘Alexa’ needs to mind ‘her’ own business

It’s come down to this, ladies and gentlemen: My wife and I have to whisper whenever we mention the name of an electronic presence we have brought into our home.

You know to “whom” I refer. “She” is “Alexa,” the smart-home gadget that performs certain tasks for us on voice command. “‘Alexa,’ turn off the lights. Play music. Lock the front door.”

As for the “play music” command, we can instruct “her” to play rock music, gospel music, country music . . . whatever genre we choose. Weird, yes? I think so.

I’m now waiting for the technology that allows “Alex” to tuck us in at night.

We find ourselves awakening “Alexa” when we mention “her” name in casual conversation. “She” tells us “she” doesn’t understand what we’re saying. “She” asks for clarification. When we give “her” none, “she” goes quiet.

Now, though, “Alexa” is responding to the sound of “her” name when the TV commercial blurts it out. I refuse to turn the volume down whenever one of those “Alexa” commercials airs. So there.

Yes, this smart-home technology is rather fun. It gives us a chuckle or two during the day when we instruct our device to do something we used to do manually. You know, things like flipping a light switch. Sheesh!

Now in this brave new world into which we have entered, we are forced to whisper the name of an electronic gadget.

Surely, “she” won’t take us hostage in our own home. Will “she”?

Sod Poodles off to a sold-out start!

I am acutely aware that a single sold-out event does not constitute a successful season, let alone a successful sports/entertainment/business venture.

However, it tickles me giggly to read that the Amarillo Sod Poodles opening night at home has sold out. Yep. Hodgetown, the AA minor-league baseball team’s home field in downtown Amarillo has zero seats left for the April 8 date.

I believe that the sellout could bode well for the interest shown by the community for the Sod Poodles, the team affiliated with the National League’s San Diego Padres.

The Sod Poodles have relocated to the Texas Panhandle from San Antonio, where they played as the Missions in South Texas. They’ve moved out to make room in the Alamo City for a AAA franchise that is relocating there from Colorado Springs.

Hodgetown seats a little more than 7,000 spectators. All that’s left is standing room-only viewing. A ticket gets you into the ballpark; then you’ve got to find a place to stand and watch the Sod Poodles.

I remain a staunch supporter of this effort. To be candid, I had my doubts not too long ago that the city would bring this project to fruition. It did. My concern was misplaced. I am delighted to hear about this latest bit of positive news from my distant perch in Collin County.

The future remains to be determined. If this event — the selling out of the ballpark for opening night — can be relegated to the “most recent past,” then let us hope it serves as a prologue for a bright future for the Sod Poodles and for the city that has invested in this worthwhile project.

Is POTUS now going to stop tweeting about late-night comics?

Donald Trump says he’s no longer going to watch late-night comics because they’re too rough on him.

Yep, the president just can’t take all the jokes at his expense from the likes of Jimmy Kimmel, Seth Myers, Stephen Colbert and occasionally Jimmy Fallon.

Former “Tonight” host Jay Leno has been making the rounds the past couple of days telling TV hosts that he’s a bit annoyed that the comics have been too tough on Trump. He wants a more bipartisan approach to poking fun at politicians.

If the president is telling the truth about changing his TV-watching routine, I wonder if that means he’ll cease firing out Twitter messages blasting late-night comics’ stand-up routines that draw all kinds of laughs.

Well, I am not going to hold my breath.

Donald Trump cannot help himself.

The Beatles’ legacy will live . . . forever!

ALLEN, Texas — So, I walked into a sporting goods store today with my sis and her husband. We made a purchase and walked to the checkout counter.

The young man took one look at my Beatles shirt and said, “Hey, I love your shirt. I am named after one of those guys.”

I looked at his name tag with the name: Lennon.

What in the world? Yes, his dad is a major Beatles fan. So is the young man, who I figure might be 20 years of age.

“Do you know how John Lennon died?” I asked. “Oh yes. I’ve been told all about it. I have read all about it.”

My sis told the young man how we — she and I — attended a Beatles concert in Portland, Ore., in August 1965. “Front-row center seats,” she told him. Lennon wanted to know how we liked it “with all the screaming.” It was a challenge to hear anything, I mentioned.

Sis told him George was her favorite Beatle.

Lennon said his mom wanted to name his brother after Paul McCartney. I wondered: Huh? Well, I suppose he could be called “Mac.” Lennon’s parents ended up naming his sibling something else.

And so . . . I received yet another example of how the music of my generation lives forever. The Beatles’ legacy will live on for as long as human beings are able to listen to music.

I know he’s not the only child — or grandchild — of those who grew up listening to those fellows.

As I reminded young Lennon, “These guys (pointing to the image on my shirt) helped raise me.”

Smollett ‘hate crime’ story is inflicting some casualties

The Jussie Smollett Saga is inflicting some serious damage, regardless of how this story concludes.

Smollett is the openly gay African-American actor who said two men attacked him, declaring that he was in “MAGA Country’; Smollett said they assaulted him and hung a noose around his neck. Smollett stars in the Fox TV series “Empire.” The series producers have written Smollett out of the final two episodes of the current season; Smollett’s longer-term future with “Empire” remains unclear.

Then the police started sniffing around and they determined that Smollett orchestrated his own hate crime victimhood. Smollett is now charged with a fourth-degree felony of disorderly conduct.

The damage? It’s going to be inflicted on actual victims of hate crimes. Will actual victims of actual crimes be reluctant now to report them to the police? Will they fear the cops won’t believe them when they allege that someone has attacked them merely because of their race or religious faith or their sexual orientation?

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson seemed genuinely angry the other morning while he announced Smollett’s arrest. He is angry because of the time, money and assorted ancillary resources wasted on an allegedly phony hate crime.

The MAGA reference, of course, deals with Donald Trump, his signature slogan to “Make America Great Again.” To my mind, though, the Trump effect is a minor part of this story.

The bigger part of this saga deals with how the allegations against Smollett — who allegedly paid two brothers to assault him — will impact legitimate hate crime concerns.

Smollett, naturally, denies doing anything wrong. He stands by his initial complaint. The police, though, seem equally certain that he faked the attack.

I just fear what effect this story is going to have on future reports of actual hate crimes. My hope that it won’t inhibit such reporting is waging combat with that fear for the worst.

As for who to believe, I am leaning toward siding with the cops.

Connect these dots, if you can

I am having trouble connecting a few dots related to the Jussie Smollett arrest for allegedly orchestrating a hate crime committed against . . . himself!

Smollett is an actor currently performing on the TV series “Empire.” He reported in late January that two men assaulted him, tied a noose around his neck and said he was in “MAGA” country, meaning he was in a region that favored Donald Trump. Smollett, an openly gay African-American, reported the assault and the cops launched an investigation into the so-called hate crime.

Well, now we hear Smollett has been charged with filing a false police report. He paid two guys to assault him, according to the police detectives.

Oh, those dots I cannot connect?

The police say Smollett orchestrated the attack because he is dissatisfied with the salary he’s getting from Fox TV for his role on “Empire.” To which I say, simply: Huh?

Let me see how this plays out: An actor thinks he isn’t getting paid enough so he concocts a hate crime assault, thinking that as a victim of such an act he’s going to get more money?

How does that work?

This is a patently weird story.

Another entertainment career appears to have tanked

I’ll be totally candid: I had never heard of Jussie Smollett until the young man reported a few days ago that he had been the victim of a hate crime. I don’t watch “Empire,” so the actor slipped under my TV-watching radar.

It was in all the papers. Now I know far more about this guy than I care to know.

He has been accused of fabricating the incident and of paying two brothers to orchestrate a “crime” that the alleged “victim” made up.

I was struck by a couple of aspects of this morning’s announcement that Smollett had been arrested and taken into custody by the Chicago Police Department.

One was the absence of the word “allegedly” by the police superintendent, Eddie Johnson, who appeared to my eyes to be furious at what his detective division uncovered about Smollett’s supposedly phony involvement in this incident.

Smollett said someone attacked him and threw racial and homophobic slurs at him; Smollett, who is African-American, also is openly gay. The alleged attackers were supposedly wearing “MAGA” hats and passed themselves off as Donald Trump supporters.

The police superintendent also took pains today to say how much time, money, manpower and emotional energy was wasted by the phony accusation. Smollett had leveled a serious charge of a hate crime. The police took his complaint as seriously as it takes any such incident.

As I watched the press conference today, I was struck by the utter certainty in the voices of Johnson and the head of the CPD detective division. They believe they have solved this matter.

Jussie Smollett is presumed to be innocent. I get that. However, just as all the entertainment and media powerhouses who’ve been accused of sexual misbehavior also are presumed innocent, their careers are toast. I’m betting so is Smollett’s career.

To think that he supposedly set this “crime” up because he wanted more money for his acting gig on “Empire.” My strong hunch is that his entertainment income is about to dry up . . . rapidly!

And let us all hope that Smollett’s reported fakery will not hinder others from reporting actual hate crimes when they occur.

As for the brothers, it likely turns out they are the victims.

These are the Beach Boys?

Check out the picture. It is of the Beach Boys, the iconic band from the 1960s. Except for this little item: The Beach Boys that I used to listen to comprised five members; this bunch totals nine men.

What’s more, two of the original Beach Boys are dead: brothers Dennis and Carl Wilson. And . . . the creative genius behind the band, Brian Wilson, no longer plays with the band he founded.

Check out the two men in the hats. The one on the left is Mike Love, the lead singer of the Beach Boys dating back to their glory days; the guy on the right is Bruce Johnston, a long time band member, but he was a part-timer back when Dennis and Carl were still with us.

Oh, and then we have Al Jardine, a friend of the Wilson family, who also was a member.

I guess my point is that the Beach Boys whose music I used to enjoy no longer exists.

I hope they can at least sound like the Beach Boys.

World War I, Vietnam: chilling symmetry

I have just watched a chilling, remarkable and utterly jaw-dropping film. New Zealand director/producer Peter Jackson’s documentary, “They Shall Not Grow Old” hit me like a punch in the gut.

It is a film pulled together with many hours of archived film taken from World War I. Jackson colorized the raw film, restored its quality to a stunning level and then added narration taken from audio recordings made at the time.

The documentary takes us through British soldiers’ combat along The Western Front, how they confronted the Germans, fought them hand-to-hand. How they endured the most deplorable living conditions imaginable.

Then at the end of the film, we learn about the Armistice, which was proclaimed on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. The narrative tells how the guns just stopped firing. The battlefield fell strangely silent after years of constant bombardment.

There was no celebration among the British ranks. They packed up their gear and boarded boats for the ride home across the Channel.

And then they were greeted by — you guessed it — raging indifference. Indeed, many of the men who returned home from the War to End All Wars wondered: Why were we fighting? What was the point? What was the mission?

To those of us who had some exposure to another war, the one in Vietnam, the baffling reasons for fighting World War I among the British warriors seems to ring so very true.

I had a brief exposure to the Vietnam War. I didn’t suffer the hideous conditions experienced by the men I just witnessed on film. I did come home to what I have referred to as “raging indifference.” Make no mistake, either: I, too, wondered about what in the world I had just experienced and to what end was this war going to conclude.

I haven’t given away too much of the film. Just take my word for it: Peter Jackson has worked a technological miracle with this documentary.

It’s a classic!