BRANDON — Right in the middle of my backswing, a golf club aloft over my left shoulder, a phalanx of young employees at Topgolf Tampa start line-dancing behind me. They're doing something called "the Wobble"; I, in turn, do something called "the Shank," totally botching my shot at this high-tech play zone.
I blame them.
This is a pretty, and pretty weird, joint, and it will prove curious counterpoint to the Bass Pro Shops opening across the street next year. Debuting to the public Dec. 19, Topgolf is a $20 million 65,000-square-foot behemoth hoping to lure both serious golfers and serious party stars from St. Petersburg, downtown Tampa and Orlando — not to mention families, foodies and single men and women ready to mingle, Wobble and, if time allows, actually play golf....
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment was so close to getting out of 2014 without any more financial or political headaches. But alas, now this: A former annual passholder at SeaWorld Orlando and Busch Gardens who says that his pass was renewed without his permission has filed a lawsuit against the company.
Claiming that SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment continued to charge his credit card about $35 per month beyond his one-year commitment, Jason Herman of Kenneth City seeks $5 million on behalf of himself and other annual passholders "similarly situated."...
In 1964, the Hess oil company got into the toy-truck business. It was the boss' idea, founder Leon Hess, whose Lithuanian immigrant dad once drove an oil delivery truck in Asbury Park, N.J.
Leon, who bootstrapped himself into one of the wealthiest men in the United States (including owning the New York Jets), wanted to sell an affordable Christmas gift, something for families trying to make ends meet. In this case: a toy oil delivery truck with working lights....
When the Who's Pete Townshend announced in October that his British band would be embarking on a for-real-this-time farewell tour — which happens to kick off at Tampa's Amalie Arena on April 15 — the language the windmilling graybeard used was morbid but money-savvy.
The 69-year-old said this was the "beginning of the long goodbye." He and 70-year-old singer Roger Daltrey were "lucky to be alive" but would play "until we drop" — you know, like the other members of the Who, Keith Moon and John Entwistle, both unlucky, both dropped....
To have and to hold and to hitch it up in the Sunshine State: That's the honeymoon-swoon allure of a new Visit Tampa Bay ad campaign created in anticipation of Florida soon eradicating a ban on same-sex marriage.
Earlier this week, a federal appeals court ruled that a stay in the state's ban on same-sex nuptials will be lifted Jan. 5 because of the ban's unconstitutionality.
If that holds up, Visit Tampa Bay, Hillsborough County's nonprofit tourism branch, would "almost immediately" court betrothed-minded LGBT folks with its glossy new "To Have and To Hold" blitz. There will be matrimonial-specific print ads in the Northeast, the Middle Atlantic, Ohio and Texas; digital ads in Chicago and Dallas; and conquerwithpride.com, a microsite listing local events, hotels and services....
12/03/14 Music & Concerts
Box sets are totally gratuitous beasts in the year 2014. After all, when it comes to music (and books and Netflix and ...), we are increasingly getting smaller; we're all about digital and downloadable and streamable. Goodbye physical — hello invisible! And yet, the box set is all about excess, about something to hold and feel and read and smell.
And, more than likely, gather dust on your Ikea bookshelf. ...
12/03/14 Music & Concerts
Gone-pop princess Taylor Swift may not be feeling the love from her former country peers this Christmas season, but Santa sure is. This year's ho-ho-holiday musical offerings are dominated by Music Row notables (LeAnn Rimes, Sara Evans) and Southern-fried singers (Darius Rucker, the cast of TV's Nashville).
Heck, even those good ol' Dukes of Hazzard boys Tom Wopat and John Schneider get in on the gift-giving. Strap reindeer to the General Lee? Sure, why not! Pass the moonshine-spiked eggnog, Bo and Luke!...
Nothing tizzies the masses like the words "free coffee," which means "free coffee FOR 10 DAYS" just might make heads explode. You know, in a good way!
On Thursday, at the grand opening of a new Wawa store in Plant City — the 58th Wawa to open in Florida, by the way — the convenience chain will commence 10 straight days of no-strings-attached free coffee.
The new location, at 2701 Thonotosassa Rd., will also celebrate its birth via a hoagie-building competition and an appearance by Wally Goose, who is apparently the company's mascot. ...
H&M, the Swedish-born "fast fashion" retailer with a cultish following, will open a third location in Tampa: a 20,000-square-foot behemoth in Westfield Citrus Park pegged for a spring 2015 debut.
The new store will join successful H&Ms in WestShore Plaza and International Plaza — spacious, well-lit enclaves where clothing trends straight off the runways (hence, "fast fashion") can be had for affordable prices. ...
By SEAN DALY
Times Staff Writer
The fashion world is routinely intruded upon by rock stars and Hollywood pretties, your J.Lo's and P.Diddy's offshooting their brand names into clothing-line cash.
It may often come off as a crass crossover, but at least those celebs have a certain sartorial sense. Country star Brad Paisley dresses like he's ready to change your oil. Nevertheless, on Tuesday, Boot Barn, the nation's largest western-wear store, launched Moonshine Spirit, a new merch line inspired by the casual cowboy who sings Ticks (as in the parasites) and Mud on the Tires (as in mud on the tires). ...
The fashion world is routinely intruded upon by rock stars and Hollywood pretties, with the likes of J. Lo and P. Diddy offshooting their brand names into clothing-line cash.
It may often come off as a crass crossover, but at least those celebs have a certain sartorial sense. Country star Brad Paisley dresses like he's ready to change your oil. But on Monday, Boot Barn, the nation's largest western-wear store, launched Moonshine Spirit, a new merchandise line inspired by the casual cowboy who sings Ticks (as in the parasites) and Mud on the Tires (as in mud on the tires). ...
Call it a corporate catch-and-release: Tampa-based Bloomin' Brands, parent of Outback Steakhouse and more, has agreed to sell off its interest in the seafood-based Roy's chain to United Ohana, a newly formed company whose founder owns and operates 69 Applebee's in Texas. The transaction is expected to close in the next 30 to 60 days. A sale price was not disclosed.
Roy's — and that mouth-watering Japanese Misoyaki Butterfish with Sizzling Vinaigrette — was acquired by Bloomin' in 2000; celebrity chef Roy Yamaguchi and his yowza-spicy Pacific Rim concoctions were enticing acquirements. There are 29 Roy's locations around the world, 20 of which were owned by Bloomin'....
Okay, now I really feel bad for all those Singing Beth jokes. On Sunday's midseason finale of The Walking Dead's fifth campaign, the show's resident blond songbird -- Daryl's sorta crush, Maggie's sweet sister -- tried to save her new pal Noah by scissor-stabbing Officer Dawn Lerner, the intensely coiffed ruler of Grady Memorial, the creepy hospital sex prison.
But alas, Dawn shot Beth (goodbye Emily Kinney) in the head, which quickly led to an unhinged Daryl shooting Dawn in the head, which eventually led to Maggie crumbling to the ground and basically all of us SOBBING at a show about zombies. Don't lie, dude: You totally cried when Daryl carried his lady love's lifeless body out into the sunlight. Not even a teasing sneak peek of fan fave Morgan and his Goo Goo Cluster (delicious, btw) could make you feel better....
11/25/14 Music & Concerts
The keys to Pixar's animation domination are myriad: narratives that deftly seduce all ages (Up, Finding Nemo); cutting-edge images that advance the form yet retain unmistakable warmth (The Incredibles, Wall-E); exceptional vocal turns from bold-faced actors who understand they're working for one of the greatest Hollywood studios of all time (Tom Hanks and Tim Allen in the Toy Story canon). ...
TAMPA -- James Taylor shambled onstage Friday as if he were looking for lost car keys. He rubbed his bald head, gave a sheepish look at the 8,992 in the Amalie Arena crowd. Then he grabbed a beat-up acoustic guitar, took a careful seat on a stool and started cooing Something in the Way She Moves. Thus concluded the night's most gripping action sequence.
Oh, I'm just joshing all you touchy-feelies out there. No one came to JT expecting pyro; this was all about a big warm folk-pop group hug, the 66-year-old sensitive one still in fine soft voice and pastoral demeanor. The best place to hear the somber Bostonian sing is somewhere cozy, intimate -- like, say, your bathroom. But such is his soothing widespread appeal -- when he uttered the word "hippies" the place went crazy (well, politely so) -- the dude can still pack a large venue....