Sometimes the ups and downs of trying to succeed as a Hollywood actor wears on Tampa native Alexis Carra. When it does, she leans on her women's group — friends who always find a way to build her up. The encouragement Carra gets from her support network is one of the reasons she's been tabbed to deliver the afternoon keynote speech Sept. 9 at the 2016 Working Women State Conference.
Carra, whose credits include starring on the short-lived series Recovery Road and guest appearances on shows such as NCIS: Los Angeles, The Mentalist and Anger Management, traces her drive back to her West Tampa roots....
CARROLLWOOD — Cleo Heart characterizes her outlook on performing at Tace Lounge this Saturday with three words: "excitement, neurosis and anticipation."
Neurosis? It's a surprising word choice for someone who has delivered stylish jazz vocals to Tampa Bay-area audiences for more than 30 years, but after visiting New Orleans twice this summer, Heart possesses a renewed energy for the genre. It doesn't hurt that Tace, located at 14380 N Dale Mabry Highway, specializes in New Orleans cuisine....
The Florida State Senate District 19 race has shaped up to be one of the area's most intriguing.
The four Democrats vying in Tuesday's primary to face off against a little-known Republican all bring bonafides to a race to represent portions of Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.
Ed Narain and Darryl Rouson currently serve as state representatives in the House.
Betty Reed formerly held the seat Narain holds and wants to go back to Tallahassee. She repeated that phrase at least a dozen times during a political forum I got the chance to moderate on Tuesday night....
08/21/16 Human Interest
The Children's Movement of Florida will host a debate Tuesday among the four Democratic candidates vying for the District 19 state Senate seat, and it will focus on issues affecting children from birth to age 5.
The forum will be the first of several hosted by the grass roots group, and with good reason.
The latest Kids Count report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation ranks Florida 40th overall in child well-being and 47th in health....
Father Stephan Brown said he no longer can sit at home and watch violent outbreaks, young African-American men dying in the streets and police officers murdered in the line of duty.
Add terrorist acts and the harsh rhetoric surrounding immigrants to the mix and the disruptive aspects feed what Brown calls an "endless division, distrust and disgust of so much hate."
It's all enough to make a 52-year-old priest cry. And Brown has cried....
08/14/16 Human Interest
Someone far smarter than me recently responded to the statement, "I hate my government at all levels" by arguing that while it can perform better, it's not doing badly enough to justify antigovernment hysteria from both the far right and far left.
He added that such hyperbole is paralyzing the political process. I couldn't agree more.
Some will insist what we describe as hysteria is actually reality rooted in unfair acts and a detachment from real Americans. From my view, however, it's really more about charlatans who succeed only by ginning up anger and never acknowledging our government's best aspects....
The mother and father sit in the driveway toasting each other with tasty mimosas and broad smiles.
In the background, their kids trudge toward the school bus.
It's just an Internet meme, but in some ways it reflects the joy parents share about the first day of school.
Camps give way to carpools, homework replaces boredom and you finally have a legitimate reason to make them turn off the television and read a book. Or go to bed....
08/07/16 Human Interest
Tony Dungy capped off a lifetime of achievements with his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, but it's how he has handled adversity that we should most admire.
With grace, class and remarkable calm, he dealt with challenges that may have broken many, always calling on his faith and seldom, if ever, making his struggles solely about himself.
I helped cover the Bucs for the Times from 1997 to 2001, a period when the trending phrase was "What Would Jesus Do — WWJD?" We beat reporters often asked, only slightly joking, "WWTD — What Would Tony Do?" That's not an attempt to canonize him, just an effort to express deep respect....
Eighteen kids from the Wilbert Davis Belmont Heights Boys & Girls Club — divided into four teams — entered the Tampa headquarters of PDQ restaurants to determine who crafts the best milk shake.
At stake: the opportunity to have one of their very own creations placed on the PDQ menu.
Each team paraded its shakes before four judges: WWE wrestlers Titus O'Neil and Sheamus, radio personality Corey Dylan, PDQ principal owner Bob Basham, and yours truly....
07/31/16 Human Interest
Much of the nation discovered the sacrifice of U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan when his father, Khizr, delivered an emotional speech at the Democratic National Convention last week. The story continues to resonate today.
But Tampa lawyer Luis Viera already knew of Khan and his Gold Star family. He wrote about him in a piece for the Tampa Tribune a year ago, and has taken his young son to visit Khan's gravesite at Arlington National Cemetery....
If you're the parent of a teen or tween daughter, you're probably going to purchase a clothing item over the next couple of weeks that you probably would have tossed in the garbage can 20 years ago.
Ripped jeans — you know, those pants that look like they got in a fight with denim-eating moths, and lost — emerged long before this year as a fashion trend. But they seem to have reached new heights of popularity in 2016, especially with my trend-conscious 14-year-old daughter....
07/24/16 Human Interest
I'm not a Rotarian, but I hold great admiration for Rotary's Four-Way Test.
Developed in 1932, it asks members to ensure that the things they think, say or do must pass this test: 1. Is it truthful; 2. Is it fair to all concerned; 3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships; 4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
Now, 84 years later, it's a perfect antidote for social media users' worst intentions. Imagine if we — and I mean all of us — used the four-way test to vet everything we post on Facebook. Either Facebook would be far more courteous — especially in these politically heated days — or the vast majority of us would be unable to post anything. …...
After arriving at the Marriott Waterside on Tuesday for the convention of the National Association of the Buffalo Soldiers & Troopers Motorcycle Club, Tony Harris, Frank Austin and Dwayne Ware came across an artist on the second floor of the hotel diligently working on a broad canvas.
John Barge III, on his knees, was adding to his original work featuring members of the club when the gentlemen mentioned they were from the West Point, N.Y., chapter. Barge smiled and knew immediately he would make another addition to the portraits — Sgt. Sanders H. Matthews, longtime head of a Buffalo Soldiers chapter in upstate New York who has dedicated himself to preserving the history of the soldiers at West Point....
07/17/16 Human Interest
The teenager cupped her hand over her mouth, her face growing red as she greeted the celebrity. Her eyes began to water with tears of joy and she fanned herself just a bit.
Who could elicit such a reaction at the Clearwater Ulta Beauty store on Saturday? Self-made 20-year-old YouTube lifestyle consultant Aspyn Ovard.
Ovard, who lives in Utah, inspired about 200 girls — and at least one guy with a beard — to line up at 10 a.m. to purchase a product and get a wristband to return to see Ovard at 3 p.m. My 14-year-old daughter and her two friends joined the buzz....
For my friend and me, Jigglypuff served as code when our sons would grow inattentive as they enveloped themselves in a deep and meaningful conversation about Pokémon.
Even when they were teenagers, with supposed raging hormones, we watched as my two sons and his two sons debated some pressing question about Mewtwo versus Articuno versus Entei (or something) at Universal Studios while a tour group of beautiful girls walked right by them....