Well, it's safe to say some of your recent weekend plans got disrupted.
Hurricane Irma put all of Tampa Bay on edge for days, and in the end, we were far luckier than others in Florida and the Caribbean. Still, it led to local closures, rescheduling and a mental switch into a stressful survival mode. A weekend that held promising plans ended in SpaghettiOs and Scrabble by candlelight.
Maybe you found ways to stay entertained. Maybe you evacuated and got unexpected time with family. I, somehow, ended up on my honeymoon during the storm — talk about timing....
It's easy to get caught up in the blockbusters, the flashiest titles with the biggest stars.
But for our Fall Movie Preview this year, critic Steve Persall took a different tack. He chose to focus on movies he thinks will be worthy of critical praise and awards when they grace your multiplex screen. Click here....
08/23/17 Music & Concerts
“Is Ed Sheeran sexy?"
Jay Cridlin, our pop music/culture critic, was on the phone with singer James Blunt, who is opening for Sheeran at Amalie Arena on Tuesday. But Jay could have been talking to anyone.
It's the quest he's taken this week, trying to unlock the appeal of a divisive figure in pop culture. Somewhere between the guitar, sweet warble, cargo shorts and tats, some think Sheeran has a certain something. Some people, uh, do not....
08/16/17 Music & Concerts
I was in a restroom at a Palm Harbor pizza shop last weekend, with Elvis.
A collage of his photos was staring back at me. In the way that pizza restaurants like to decorate with glamorous dead celebrities of a certain era, there were also posters featuring James Dean and Marilyn Monroe. It was kind of a solemn restroom break, to be honest.
The Elvis poster went through all his phases. Young upstart King, movie star King, puffy '70s King. Elvis would be 82, had he not died 40, yes 40 years ago on Aug. 16. I couldn't help but wonder what a modern-day Elvis would be like. What would he make of our political climate? Would he still tour? What kind of music would he like? Would he have an opinion on Despacito?...
08/09/17 Music & Concerts
One of my favorite stories we've published this year involved a Pitbull and a Dad.
Mr. Worldwide, to be specific, and the father of Times staff writer Divya Kumar. Divya took her 55-year-old professor pops to see Pitbull and Enrique Iglesias at Amalie Arena in June. She knew her dad liked some of Mr. Bull's upbeat tracks, including, as he described it, "I know u want me, nanna nananana."...
Go outside, we said. You'll have a great time, we said.
This issue was all ready to go when Tropical Storm Emily crept up and surprised everyone. Forecasters knew it would rain that day, but they didn't know how much, a confluence of factors fooling the prediction software. You probably felt it. My shoes were filled to the top with water as I squished-squished-squished into the office after navigating some serious B-roll from the Weather Channel. A maintenance worker mopped the muddy floors, sighing....
It's safe to say we take the complex, mysterious unicorn of air conditioning for granted.
In Florida, most public places are set to a crisp subzero year round, and we know we can duck into a store or a Starbucks to get a little relief at almost any time. My office is pretty much an arctic tundra. I have a Snuggie on hand at all times. Going outside into the heat is so shocking sometimes, it feels like that scene in Fantasia where the dinosaurs all die out to Stravinsky's Rite of Spring....
Who remembers being kind of bored as a kid?
You went with your parents to the hardware store, to the DMV. You went to Kmart and put back to school clothes on layaway. You went to Blockbuster and fought with your brother about who could pick the new release. Then you went home and ran around with your neighbor, the one who always dared you to eat things from the questionable grain field out back of the house....
07/12/17 Food & Dining
One of our editors came dashing over to Features the other day. I feared some major news had broken, a celebrity had shuffled off this mortal coil or a Kardashian had married a QR code while I'd glanced away.
But, no. It was National Fried Chicken Day.
Of course, it was imperative that we inform readers of places to get the best crispy bird, and STAT. Another editor turned around in her chair and reminded us that, when she'd told us National Piña Colada Day was coming, we had ignored her....
You might be surprised to learn that, even on its worst day, the Sharknado franchise brings in nearly 3 million viewers. That's "million." Not a typo.
Learn that and more fun facts in this week's story from movie critic Steve Persall, who interviewed Sharknado director Anthony C. Ferrante. The purveyor of Syfy's staple series is appearing at Tampa Theatre, along with a screening of his original finned film. It's all tied to Shark-Con at the Florida State Fairgrounds....
The most colorful parade in Florida is this weekend, and it's a fun time, to be sure.
St. Pete Pride is back with a new location along St. Petersburg's waterfront. June is Pride month around the country, a time for the LGBTQ community and allies to come together, have a good time and show love. Check our report for details about this year's parade, events and trends to look out for. (Did you know horror icon the Babadook is making the rounds at Pride festivities?)...
Cue the loving groans.
Our star this week is Tig Notaro, the comedian known for her "bone-dry, low-key observations," as Christopher Spata writes. She performs at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts on Friday. In a different Straz theater on the same night, Jim Jefferies cracks his brand of controversial funnies.
If Pops can take a joke, either event would be a lovely date this Father's Day weekend. We have some other ideas to mark the occasion, from museums offering free admission to dining ideas that step outside the box at tampabay.com/holiday....
06/02/17 The Feed
It's officially TV catch-up season.
As Chelsea Tatham writes in this week's Couch Planner, Fear the Walking Dead is back for a third season, so brush up on the first two. And, before the TV reboot starts in June, she suggests watching the movie adaptation of Stephen King's The Mist, an endeavor that left me horrified. I can still hear Thomas Jane's tortured screams.
But these dark shadows are not why I called you here today. I am here to advocate that you play catch-up on a series with much lower stakes, and a much happier disposition. A series that will caress your head gently and calm you like a red wine....
There are times in life that call for caution, for using that chunk of money in savings to renovate the bathroom because the bathroom is from 1974, and not in a cool way.
But then, there are times Groupon comes along.
A few years back, it happened to me most notably right after a bad breakup. A trip to Paris and Rome, including hotel and airfare, breakfasts and rides to the airport, appeared in my in-box. It was $1,500 for all. A stock photo of the Eiffel Tower danced off the screen. Buy it now, a voice said, a voice wearing a beret. Ask questions later. I enlisted a friend and we clicked oui, oui....
05/18/17 Human Interest
There are some things to get out of the way. Before you finish the wine, you have to do dealbreakers. I killed a man in Cincy. I collect clown socks. I have a lower back Gwar tattoo.
For this conversation, here's what needs getting out of the way:
Commuting is mostly terrible.
I drive 25 miles each way, five days a week, from home in Dunedin to work in downtown St. Petersburg. There are many reasons, but it boils down to this: I love my home and my job. There is road between us. ...