Category Archives: entertainment news

Irksome Phrase, Part 2: ‘Reality TV’ has joined the club

Time for an admission. I watch an occasional “reality TV” show, even though I find it astonishing that contemporary culture has adopted the term in the first place.

There’s nothing real about “reality TV.”

What was the first one? I believe it was “Survivor,” correct? CBS TV launched this “reality” series that features individuals being “stranded” in some out of the way place, having to fend for themselves. They get voted out by their colleagues, I suppose, for not doing what they’re supposed to do to stay in the game.

I’ve never watched a single episode of this “reality TV” series. I’m going on what I have heard and read about it.

The roster of “reality TV” shows has too numerous to count.

I do watch “The Voice.” Why? Well, I enjoy the banter among the judges and I certainly enjoy watching the unknown talents competing for the title of being “The Voice” champion.

But this whole notion of “reality TV” is among the greatest misnomers I can imagine. The one where contestants race around the world against each other is kind of fun. I won’t watch the show where the contestants are enclosed in a room with the camera watching over them.

And all those “Real Housewives” series on Bravo? Puh-leeease!

I understand the economics of this type of programming. Networks pay these individuals far less than they pay established film and TV stars. The reduced overhead makes “reality TV” shows more affordable. So, I get that part of it.

What I don’t quite get is why the networks call it “reality TV.”

Those “Survivor” contestants aren’t going to be allowed to starve to death, or face wild animals, or have to cope with disease-carrying insects. The TV production crews are standing by to assist them.

Is any of that a form of reality?

I do not think so.

The very term “reality TV” simply irks me.

Happy birthday, Ringo … I remember you well!

Days like today remind me of the differences between generations. Strange, yes? I now will explain.

Today is Sir Richard Starkey’s birthday. He is known to us, though, by the name of Ringo Starr. He played drums for The Beatles, but you knew that already. He is 79 years of age today. Ye gads, man!

Four years ago, when Ringo turned 75, I was working part time at an Amarillo, Texas, automobile dealership. I made plenty of friends there. I still am friends with many of those former colleagues.

I was chatting with one of them that day four years ago and I mentioned to this much-younger 20-something woman that it was Ringo’s birthday, that he turned 75.

Her response? “Who’s Ringo Starr?”

My jaw dropped. I couldn’t believe my ears. “Are you serious?” I asked. She said she was totally serious.

Oh … my. I had to explain the cultural significance of The Beatles, of Ringo’s role in the band turning into arguably the most iconic and musically immortal acts in the history of recorded music.

Yes, I got a blank stare.

I was crushed. Crestfallen. I thought she would share my joy in celebrating Ringo’s birthday. She didn’t.

Oh, well. That was her loss.

Sir Richard, I’m with you, pal. Happy birthday, and thanks for helping raise me … and billions of others.

Irony continues to provide a bit of sting

There might be a reader or two of this blog who will presume this brief post is an assault on a young woman who once lived in Amarillo, Texas.

It isn’t. Please accept the notion that I intend only to reiterate an astonishing irony.

Meghan Riddlespurger once was the front woman for what she called the “Amarillo Millennial Movement.” She fought for the voter approval of a proposed downtown Amarillo sports/entertainment venue. Her primary motivation, she said at the time, was to entice “millennials” to remain in Amarillo and the Texas Panhandle after they finished their education. She wanted them to stay at home and to enjoy the fruits of the entertainment offerings that the venue would provide.

She posted this message overnight on Facebook: When you build it, they’ll come. Please support your walkable downtown development efforts and give your heart to municipal efforts because this is where a difference can be made. Just a few years ago, people said none of this could happen. And then it did. Believe in the most and fight for the best. Your city loves you! Goodnight!

It’s a lovely message. I presume Meghan returned to Amarillo to take in a baseball game at Hodgetown, which is the direct result of her efforts to help rejuvenate her hometown’s downtown district.

But she left the city not long after the November 2015 non-binding referendum victory she had sought. She now lives in Fort Worth, where I presume she is doing well. What about the “walking the walk”?

I harbor no personal animus toward this young woman. I like Meghan Riddlespurger, even though we don’t know each other well. I left the city, too, but I’m an old man who merely comments on local matters through this blog. I wasn’t invested at the level Riddlespurger was invested.

I just find the irony to be so very remarkable.

I do have to say this, though, about the young woman’s effort: It is paying off with the Sod Poodles playing before nice crowds at the ballpark and the city reaping the reward of the effort Meghan and many others put into its downtown redevelopment.

Happy birthday, Sir Paul; may you keep on making music

I don’t normally use this blog to comment on people’s birthdays, other than perhaps members of my immediate family.

I’ll do so briefly here by noting that Sir Paul McCartney is turning 77 years young today.

I am mentioning Sir Paul mainly because I was among the 40,000 or so fans who cheered him on Friday night as he sang to us at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas.

And, yes, we sang him “Happy Birthday” for good measure. He returned the favor later in the evening when he launched his six-song encore with The Beatles’ classic ditty “Birthday.”

Sir Paul might be the youngest 77-year-young individual I’ve ever seen. The man can play music. He plays it well. He plays his bass, guitar, mandolin, ukulele and piano with amazing verve and vigor.

I am just blown away by being able to say I’ve seen him perform now three times in my life. No. 1 was at Portland’s Memorial Coliseum in the summer of 1965, when he played for about 30 minutes with The Beatles. No. 2 occurred in 1993 at the Houston Astrodome, when the show went a whole lot longer than it did the first time. No. 3 was just this past week in Arlington.

Paul McCartney — along with John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr — helped raise me when I was a kid. Those of you are about my age know what I mean.

So, I feel a bit closer to Sir Paul on his 77th birthday than I have before. Happy birthday, Paul.

I hope you are “going to a party, party.” 

Happy Trails, Part 160: Reaping benefit of ‘choices’

As you know by now our retirement journey has taken us from Amarillo to Princeton in Texas. Our No. 1 priority is to be near our granddaughter. Mission accomplished on that matter.

A lesser priority in my own mind was to be nearer to what one of my sons refers to as “choices.” That is, to be able to partake of entertainment offerings without having to drive great distances to enjoy them.

One of those “choices” presented himself Friday night. Sir Paul McCartney took the stage at a concert venue about 50 miles west of us. So, my other son was able to get a couple of tickets and he invited dear ol’ Dad to join him way up yonder in the nosebleed section of Globe Life Park in Arlington.

I don’t want anyone to misunderstand me on this point: My wife and I enjoyed a wonderful life in Amarillo, Texas, which was our home for 23 years. We lived there nearly half our married life together. We had a wonderful house built and we made it our home. We enjoyed making it look pretty and presentable.

We also learned a fact of life about living in West Texas: If you need to see anything you need to get in your car and drive … a long way! It’s not that Amarillo and its immediate surroundings aren’t without their charms. Let’s get real. You can grow tired of seeing the same attractions over and over. To be candid, we did tire of it.

Now, though, we have settled into new digs just northeast of Dallas. Therefore, when I had the chance to drive about an hour west to Fort Worth’s front porch to see a top-drawer entertainment act — such as Sir Paul McCartney — why, I jumped at it!

Bear in mind, Sir Paul once belonged to a band, The Beatles, that helped raise me. I do not say that out of any ill will toward my parents or other elder members of my family. He and his mates crafted music that I enjoy to this very day. And I will do so until, well, I am no longer listening to any music … if you get my drift.

We now have “choices.” I intend to partake of more of them as they present themselves. Yes, indeed. Life is good. Especially since I no longer have to drive all day to enjoy them.

Sir Paul still packs ’em in

ARLINGTON, Texas — This photograph sets the stage — pun more or less intended — for a comment I want to make about the durability of a certain genre of music.

It looks down on the infield at Globe-Life Park, a baseball stadium where the Texas Rangers play hardball. All those people — tens of thousands of them — gathered Friday night to hear a musician play some music that helped raise a generation of folks … including yours truly.

Sir Paul McCartney returned to Texas and played music for nearly three hours before that rockin’, rollin’ and rollicking crowd.

You know who this fellow is, of course. He once was one-fourth of a band we remember as The Beatles. He still plays his share of Beatles hits, prompting the most spine-tingling sing-alongs one can imagine.

It’s that music that holds up. It is timeless. It is eternal. It will still be on people’s minds and in their hearts long after Sir Paul has left us. Two of his dear friends, John Lennon and George Harrison, already have departed, but Sir Paul took moments to honor them both — again to raucous cheers from the crowd that filled the stadium.

There was a wonderful moment, too, when Sir Paul recognized the difference between fan interest in Beatles songs vs. non-Beatles songs he performs — and last night he performed a healthy share of songs he has recorded since the breakup of the world’s greatest band. He said that when he plays Beatles tunes, fans light up the venue with light from their cell phones; when he plays something else, he said the venues turn into a “black hole.”

What do you suppose happened when he played the next song, which happened to be a non-Beatles tune: The place lit up with cell phone lights. It was, shall we say, fantastic! Of course, Sir Paul thanked us for “proving me wrong.”

It was an amazing evening for those of us old enough to remember hearing that music for the first time. I was a teenager when The Beatles burst on the scene. And for a time Friday night while sitting in the nosebleed section of Globe-Life Park enjoying the evening with one of my sons, I felt young again.

Thank goodness for jumbo-sized screens that allowed us to see what Sir Paul was doing on that faraway stage.

He was transporting us back in time to an era when music meant seemingly everything to us. He packed a large athletic venue with fans — who were of widely varying ages — and treated them to music that will stand the test of time for as long as there are those able to listen to it.

Well done, Sir Paul.

This man’s music still holds up … after all these years!

I saw him once at the very first rock ‘n roll concert I ever attended, in August 1965, at the Portland (Ore.) Memorial Coliseum.

I would see him later, in 1993, at the Houston Astrodome.

In a few days, I’ll be perched in the nose-bleed seats at Globe-Life Park in Arlington, Texas … to hear the music of Sir Paul McCartney.

Fifty-four years ago, Sir Paul was just Paul, part of that band known as The Beatles. Along with John, George and Ringo, the band played all of about 35 minutes, cranked out 10 songs, endured the incessant din of 11,000 screaming fans — not to mention a near riot when a couple hundred girls sought to rush the stage at the playful urging of John Lennon.

Then came the Astrodome show. My wife and I made the drive to Houston from Beaumont, sat in a crowd of about 55,000 fans who came to hear Paul play Beatles songs. Then I had a major life thrill by singing “Hey Jude,” the best song ever recorded, right along with Paul and his band.

The third show I will get to see likely will be packed to the brim with fans. They’ll be a lot of gray hair in the crowd, I can assure you. I am recalling now the time I stood in line in Beaumont to buy tickets for the Astrodome show 26 years ago; the fellow behind me said, “I bet you don’t see this much gray hair at a U-2 concert.”

Here’s the other very strange aspect of Paul’s present-day concerts. Listen to him play 50-year-old songs and then watch teenagers — children! — singing along with him, knowing every word of every golden oldie he cranks out.

So, here we are. My hair is a lot grayer now than it was in 1993. Indeed, so is Sir Paul’s hair. But the boy can still play. He’s how old? Nearly seventy-bleeping-seven?

And yet his music still holds up, It still stands the test of time. It remains immortal. He still packs ’em in. He still puts on a show worth every nickel one wants to pay.

I am not ashamed to admit this, too: I am likely to cry a time or two.

Let’s rock, Sir Paul!

‘Midnight Cowboy’ is wrong about Trump

I need to get something off my chest.

I truly admire Jon Voight’s work as an actor. He is a brilliant performer who can portray a male prostitute in “Midnight Cowboy” and President Franklin Roosevelt in “Pearl Harbor.”

However, he is mistaken in saying that Donald Trump is the greatest president since Abraham Lincoln.

What is this fellow seeing that others — such as yours truly — are missing?

Voight posted a two-part video to extol the virtues of Donald Trump. It includes this statement, according to CNN: “This job is not easy, for he’s battling the left and their absurd words of destruction,” Voight, 80, said. “Our nation has been built on the solid ground from our forefathers, and there is a moral code of duty that has been passed on from President Lincoln.”

A “moral code of duty”? Voight seems to believe that Trump follows a “moral code” in the conduct of his office. My . . . goodness!

I’ve never detected any form of “moral code” to which the president is faithful. The only “code” he appears to follow stems from whatever is in his best interest, whatever serves his brand, whatever boosts his poll numbers.

Don’t misunderstand me. I will continue to watch Voight’s work. I am able to separate his politics from his art. Indeed, I don’t watch films in which Jon Voight appears because or in spite of his political persuasion. I watch his films because he’s a marvelous actor.

I do not hold his political views against him, any more than I hold Clint Eastwood’s right-leaning politics against him, or the politics of, say, the late John Wayne or the late Charlton Heston against them.

As much as I admire Jon Voight’s work as an actor, I just believe — contrary to his view — that Donald Trump is going to rank as one of the worst presidents in our nation’s history. At almost every level this guy has managed to shred the presidency’s time-honored institutions.

I happen to believe in decorum and dignity in the office. How in the world can anyone — even an early supporter of Trump such as Jon Voight — believe he has conducted himself with any semblance of dignity while protecting the decorum associated with his high office?

There. I feel better now. I don’t want anyone to believe that I won’t spend money on a Jon Voight movie in the future. I just don’t consider his views of Donald Trump to be anywhere near the truth.

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”?