Category Archives: entertainment news

RIP, Tommy Kirk

The news that Tommy Kirk died the other day at age 79 filled me with a sense of irony and, yes, sadness.

I grew up with Tommy Kirk appearing on my TV screen. He was one of the child stars employed by the Disney company. He was a Mousketeer. He appeared in TV dramas along with other fan favorites. His was as much of a household name as, say, Annette Funicello.

Tommy Kirk also was a gay performer. He “came out” as a teenager. The price he paid for his honesty? Disney fired him essentially on the spot. Ain’t no way the entertainment giant was going to allow a gay youngster perform before audiences comprising children.

It didn’t matter, of course, that Kirk didn’t portray gay characters. Not ever! To borrow a phrase, Kirk played it straight.

That was then. The Disney Corporation has traveled many symbolic miles since that dark time. It now has Gay Pride Days at its theme parks, namely at Disneyland and at Walt Disney World.

I am glad to see the company has opened its corporate heart and it seeks to understand that one’s sexual orientation is not merely a matter of choice. It is who people are. Period. Full stop.

As for Tommy Kirk, well, he paid the price for his employers’ lack of understanding back then. May he rest in peace.

I just want to thank him for the memories he gave me as a youngster who laughed and cried at the performances he delivered.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Keep your trap shut, Nicki Minaj

ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)

Allow me this admission: I know next to nothing about Nicki Minaj.

I do know that she is a celebrity of some standing. She’s a singer, or so I hear. She’s also been in the news over the years because of some strange behavior

Now, though, she’s become a social media “influencer” (this is the first time I’ve ever referred to this term; I hope I am doing so correctly).

Minaj said that the COVID-19 vaccine has adverse effects on men’s private parts and — this is fantastic! — it makes them impotent.

Hmm. Did the flashy, flamboyant Minaj earn an MD under cover of night? Well, no. She was passing on something she heard from a friend of a fiance … or some such nonsense.

But like most people who have obtained out of whack celebrity status, the things she says somehow carries more currency than it deserves. People actually believe what she said about the vaccine.

I am no more of a medical expert than Nicki Minaj. I damn sure don’t have the celebrity following she enjoys. I would hope that were I to obtain that kind of status that I would talk only and openly about matters with which I am familiar.

As near as I can tell, Nicki Minaj doesn’t know a damn thing about a killer virus and the vaccines that have been researched and developed to kill it.

My advice to Ms. Minaj? Shut the hell up! Or at least speak out on things about which you know … whatever that might be.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Oh, Charlie could play the drums

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I am entering a state of mourning over the news I have just received.

Charlie Watts, a serious rock ‘n roll legend, has died at the age of 80.

Those of us of a certain age grew up with Charlie and his band mates. Perhaps you’ve heard of the Rolling Stones. Even though The Beatles were my favorite band while I was growing up, I also grew to love the Stones.

Charlie and his pals – Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, the late Brian Jones and Bill Wyman – set the table nicely for a lot of us as they rocked out hard. Jones died tragically; he was replaced for a time by Mick Taylor, who then was succeeded by Ronnie Wood. Wyman, the bassist, retired and the Stones never have officially “replaced” Wyman with a fifth band member.

But Charlie kept the beat. He did so without a lot of flash. Nor with what I would call a lot of “rock ‘n roll faces.”

He just played them drums, man.

Charlie was thought to be a reluctant rock star. He didn’t make a lot of headlines the way, oh, Jagger and Richards have done over many decades. Charlie was married to the same woman for more than 50 years. As near as I can tell, he didn’t partake in a lot of the hot-blooded nonsense normally associated with the Rolling Stones.

He just played the drums.

I have attended one Rolling Stones concert. That was in 1994 at the Cotton Bowl at the Dallas Fairgrounds. My son procured two tickets. We had seats on the floor of the stadium about 30 rows back from the stage. I want to relate a brief tale about the setup of that show that tells you a bit about what Charlie Watts meant to those of us who enjoyed watching and listening to the Rolling Stones.

Bryan Adams was one of the opening acts. Adams performed all of his hits. He rocked the stadium hard. His drummer sat behind this monstrous set containing all kinds of percussion instruments: various drums, chimes, cymbals … all that stuff. When the Adams set finished, the stage crew rolled the drummer’s set off the stage.

Then they brought out Charlie’s drum set. If memory serves, it had a snare, a tom and a base, along with two cymbals and a “high-hat.” That’s it, man! The crowd wanted to see Charlie play the drums. We didn’t want to just hear him as he sat behind some monstrous percussion assembly … right?

After a few minutes, the stage went dark, it filled with smoke and then we could hear the drums starting to pound.

The lights came back on and there was Charlie – along with the rest of the Stones – launching into “Not A Fade Away,” one of the Stones’ earliest hits.

Charlie could play them drums. I will miss him terribly.

Note: This blog was published initially on KETR.org.

Gov. Jenner? Ugghhh!

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

So help me I don’t know why I am even taking time to offer a comment on this … but here goes.

Caitlynn Jenner — formerly known around the world as Bruce Jenner — is running for governor of California. Caitlynn Jenner wants to succeed Gov. Gavin Newsom, who’s the target of a recall election.

What in the world does Caitlynn bring to this contest, other than astonishing celebrity status as a reality TV personality back when she was Bruce?

Caitlynn Jenner has done two notable things since winning the Olympic decathlon gold medal in Montreal in 1976:

She married the mother of those Kardashian girls. Then she changed her gender from male to female. That’s it, and that is all I intend to say about this. Unless, of course, Californians are crazy enough to actually elect this person as governor.

Eek!

Just like dear ol’ Dad

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Oh, how I hate acknowledging this, but I must do so.

I am becoming my father.

A Facebook acquaintance of mine noted overnight that he is “getting old,” based on his supposed ignorance of the new artists being honored at this past weekend’s Grammy Awards. Hey, I feel his pain.

Indeed, I am beginning to feel more like my late Dad all the time, as I, too, know next to nothing about the music that is filling young people’s ears these days.

OK, I know who Beyonce is. Same for Taylor Swift. I know the name Billie Eilish. Beyond that, well … I’m lost.

Dad was the same way when my sisters and I began listening to our version of popular music back in the old days. He couldn’t understand our fascination with The Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Stones, the Dave Clark Five, the Temptations, the Four Tops … and on and on. I cannot leave Elvis out. Dad was a Big Band kinda guy. He loved Bennie Goodman, Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey, Buddy Rich.

Those acts of my youth I just mentioned? Their music is still relevant even today. It’s because the 1960s was a very special era in so many ways. The music holds up and I venture to guess that many of today’s artists look back at the contributions of those old fogies with some semblance of awe. If they don’t, well, shame on ’em.

I’ll share this one tiny example of what I mean. My son and I attended a Paul McCartney concert in 2019; we were among 50,000 or so fans packed into Globe Life Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The opening number? “A Hard Day’s Night,” recorded by The Beatles in 1964. I could see boys and girls all around me singing right along with Sir Paul; they knew the words to a song that was penned perhaps before their parents were born!

Dad departed this good Earth in 1980. I cannot even imagine how he would react to this 21st-century version of popular music. I know, though, that as much as I have tried to become my own man as I have entered my eighth decade of life, some things do remind me that at least one level, I am just like dear ol’ Dad.

Imagine he had lived

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I am recalling today a stroll my wife and I took some years ago in New York City.

We ventured to Central Park and found the memorial a grieving widow worked to have installed in the park. She called it “Strawberry Fields,” which happened to part of the title of a song that her late husband composed in the 1960s.

John Lennon died 40 years ago today at the hands of an assassin who ambushed him outside the apartment complex where Lennon lived with his wife, Yoko Ono, and their young son, Sean.

I won’t type the name of the lunatic who killed my favorite Beatle … because you know it already and I won’t sully this text with it.

Our stroll took us eventually to the Dakota, where we stood across the street and peered toward the gate where the gunman opened fire on John Lennon. That moment, looking at the murder scene, sent chills through me.

That was then. Four decades later I still grieve the loss of a musical genius and one of the bandmates who helped raise me.

If only John Lennon had been given a chance to live a long, joyful and music-filled life.

How does he MAGA?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

How in the world does Donald J. Trump “make America great again” when he spends two hours on a radio talk show?

Yep, the commander in chief went on the air today with Rush “Daddy Dittohhead” Limbaugh. During his time on the radio, Trump managed to tell one of the biggest and most dangerous whoppers of all.

He said we have a “cure” for the COVID-19 virus that felled him and the first lady. Yes, he said that. The drug cocktail he took made him well enough to go back to the White House after spending only 70 hours at Walter Reed Medical Center. It not only did that, he said, but it cured him of the disease.

Cured him?

Medical experts were quick today to declare that there is no “cure” for the coronavirus that has killed 214,000 Americans. However, members of the Trumpkin Corps will accept their guy’s declaration as gospel.

However, I cannot help but wonder yet again: If Donald Trump is going to make America great again, how is he able to spend so much time on the air swapping lies with Rush Limbaugh?

Happy birthday, John

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Well, what does one say about a birthday commemorating one of modern culture’s most iconic figures?

Happy birthday? Sure, why not?

Today is John Lennon’s 80th birthday. You’ve heard of him, yes? He founded the band that in the early 1960s transformed popular music forever. Their music still stands, nearly six decades later.

John Lennon was my favorite Beatle. I guess it had something to do with our shared names. Hey, I was a kid when The Beatles stormed across the Atlantic Ocean.

Over the ensuing years — brief as they were — The Beatles helped raise me. I have said for years that John Lennon and  his pals were a big part of my life. He and his best pal in the group, Paul McCartney, wrote arguably the most classic music of that — or perhaps any — cultural era.

John Lennon’s life ended tragically. We’re going to mark that date in December, 40 years after that a**hole shot John to death in front of his wife and at the front door of his New York City apartment complex. Not too many years ago, my wife and I visited NYC. We stood in front of the Dakota Building where John’s life ended; we walked through Central Park and saw the Strawberry Fields exhibit dedicated to John Lennon’s memory. It all filled with me with profound sadness.

John Lennon was a complex man, but oh how he could write and then sing the songs that will last until the end of time.

I miss him to this day.

Happy birthday, John … and thank you for helping me grow up along the way.

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.