Category Archives: entertainment news

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”?

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.