Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Entertainment News

Tracy Dot Com: Candy cane classes, food trucks, celebrity poker - Wednesday, Novem

Tracy Collins, or Tracy Dot Com to her many fans, spotlights her entertainment picks for the upcoming two weeks.


Saturday, noon-4 p.m.

Hemming Park


So much food. So little time. With 29 chefs on wheels competing in 10 categories, including People’s Choice and Best Holiday Decorated Truck, there is one person guaranteed a winner: YOU! Live music, games for the kids, and craft beer from Bold City Brewery and Engine 15 for the adults round out the entertainment. Information at


Today thru Dec. 31

Sweet Pete’s

Tickets: $15

Some see the candy cane as a symbol of an intertwined white ribbon of purity and a red ribbon representing the blood of Jesus. For others, it is simply a colorful staple on the Christmas tree. But we can all agree, it is a delicious confection with a scent and flavor that stir the senses into a holiday frenzy. Learn how to make your own candy cane at this family friendly event. Sign up for a class at


Saturday at 7 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m.

Lewis Auditorium at Flagler College

Tickets start at $15

This production is so new, all I can take away from the premise is it combines a little bit of everything to kick off your Christmas spirit. A variety show that includes actors, dancers, acrobats and more to tell the story of a young girl’s journey home should be enough to make the magical transformation a reality. Tickets are limited but still available at


Thursday, Dec. 7, 6-10 p.m.

bestbet Jacksonville

Buy In: $150, Spectator: $75

There are a couple of sure bets at bestbet next week. Buy in and you’re sure to win a fun night mixing and mingling with local celebrities, plus you’ll be a hero to Kaye’s Kids, an organization that works with Dreams Come True to provide Apple computers to children with life-threatening illnesses. Local celebrities include Mark Kaye, Josh Scobee, Allie McDeal, Derrick Odom, Nikki Kimbleton, Arielle Nixon, Justin Cousart, Curtis Dvorak, TANK and Stuart Webber. Sign up at


Thursday, Dec. 7, 6-9 p.m.


Tickets: $100

For fans of WJCT – home of Melissa Ross’ “First Coast Connect,” David Luckin’s “Electro Lounge,” and hours of other local and NPR radio programs and educational television programming – Michael Boylan needs no introduction. The longtime leader of public broadcasting is stepping down, but not before we can celebrate him in a fitting way: a fundraiser for WJCT’s Learning Legacy Fund. Get tickets now at

Tracy “Dot Com” Collins is known around the area for her entertainment insight. Her mantra: If you’re bored in Jacksonville, it’s your own fault.

St. John’s Cathedral Choir hosts Evensong Concert Nov. 26 - Tuesday, Novembe

The St. John’s Cathedral Choir hosts an Evensong Concert at 5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 26, in the sanctuary at 256 E. Church St.

The free concert, directed by cathedral music canon Tim Tuller, will present works by Mendelssohn , Barnard, and Ossewaarde. Tuller will also play the “Chorale in E Major” for organ. The Cathedral Brass will perform as well as the Jacksonville Pipes and Drums.

For more information, go to

Longtime country singer, songwriter Mel Tillis dies - Sunday, November

NASHVILLE, Tenn. | Mel Tillis, the affable longtime country music star who wrote hits for Kenny Rogers, Ricky Skaggs and many others, and overcame a stutter to sing on dozens of his own singles, died Sunday. He was 85.

Spokesman Don Murry Grubbs said Tillis battled intestinal issues since 2016 and never fully recovered. The suspected cause of death is respiratory failure.

Tillis, the father of country singer Pam Tillis, recorded more than 60 albums and had more than 30 top 10 country singles, including “Good Woman Blues,” “Coca Cola Cowboy” and “Southern Rain.”

Among the hits he wrote for others were “Detroit City” for Bobby Bare; “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town,” by Rogers and the First Edition; and “Thoughts of a Fool” for George Strait.

Bare was a bandmate of Tillis’ in Old Dogs, along with Waylon Jennings and Jerry Reed. Bare said in a statement he had been friends with Tillis since the late 1950’s, when they met in Nashville.

“I’ve lost another fishing buddy and a talented, talented brother,” Bare said. “Without Mel and ‘Detroit City,’ I probably would not have had a career.”

Country music stars Charlie Daniels, Crystal Gayle, Tanya Tucker, Naomi Judd and Blake Shelton also offered their condolences, and talked about their memories of Tillis on social media and in statements from publicists.

“He once spent an entire day at his place in Tennessee showing me all the memorabilia he’d gathered over the years, where he gave me a pair of his stage boots,” Shelton’s Twitter account said. “He even took time to talk me through some hard times in my life on a couple phone calls.”

Although his early efforts to get a record deal were rebuffed because of his stutter, he was a promising songwriter in Nashville in the 1950s and 1960s, writing tunes for Webb Pierce and Ray Price.

In all, the Country Music Hall of Fame member wrote more than 1,000 songs and in 2012, received a National Medal of Arts for bringing “his unique blend of warmth and humor to the great tradition of country music.”

He also dabbled in acting, appearing in such feature films as Clint Eastwood’s “Every Which Way But Loose,” and the Burt Reynolds movies “Cannonball Run I and II” and “Smokey and the Bandit II.” He starred in several television movies and briefly had a network TV show, “Mel and Susan Together,” with Susan Anton.

In 2007, Tillis became a regular performer on the Grand Ole Opry country music show.

“You know what? Another part of the dream has been fulfilled,” he said at the time. “It’s been a long, hard road.”

Tillis was raised in Pahokee, Fla., and developed his stutter as a child while being treated for malaria. He dropped out of the University of Florida and instead served in the Air Force, and worked on the railroad before relocating to Nashville in 1957.

Musical from an early age, he started performing in the early 1950s with a group called The Westerners, while stationed in Okinawa and serving as a baker in the Air Force.

He held a variety of odd jobs before breaking out, including being a truck driver, a strawberry picker, a firefighter on the railroad and milkman, which inspired his breakthrough song. Feeling down one day, he began singing to himself, “Oh Lord, I’m tired. Tired of living this ol’ way.” He turned his lament into “I’m Tired,” which became a hit for Webb Pierce.

Book review: Domestic terrorism at heart of new Baldacci thriller - Sunday, November


Author: David Baldacci

Data: Grand Central, 416 pages, $29

“Cry Havoc, and let loose the dogs of war” on Grand, Colorado.

In his latest Will Robie adventure, David Baldacci lets his two most lethal killers loose on the not-so-peaceful inhabitants of a small western town. But before they head back to the U.S., Robie opens “End Game” by single-handedly taking out a 16-man terrorist cell in London. He is soon upstaged by his more-than-deadly partner Jessica Reel, who while doing sniper duty with an anti-terrorist unit in Iraq, is involved in a battle where she is the only survivor – on either side (These chapters are worth the price of the book).

Meanwhile, while on a fishing trip to his hometown, their Central Intelligence Agency boss, known as Blue Man, goes missing. Robie and Reel are sent to find him. They find that home-grown terrorists can be as lethal as foreign ones.

Best-seller Baldacci’s first Robie thriller in two years will have his fans squealing – fast-paced entertainment at its best with a surprise or two thrown in.

C.F. Foster lives in Riverside.

Bookmarks: Signings, releases, storytimes - Sunday, November


• “This First Thanksgiving Day,” 11 a.m. Tuesday, Barnes & Noble St. Johns Town Center.

• “Everything is Mama,” by Jimmy Fallon, 11 a.m. Saturday, Barnes & Noble St. Johns Town Center, Barnes & Noble San Jose, 11112 San Jose Blvd., Barnes & Noble St. Augustine, 1930 U.S. 1 South.


• Thomas Hughes, “God’s Love is Like Making Pancakes,” Sunday 9 a.m. to noon, St Paul’s Church Family Life Center, 578 1st Ave N, Jacksonville Beach.

• Louise Jacques, “Dreams of Amelia,” 1 -4 p.m. Sunday, The Book Loft, 214 Centre St., Fernandina Beach.

• Gigi and Ryan Giles, “Too Licky,” 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, San Marco Books and More, 1971 San Marco Blvd.


“Diary of A Wimpy Kid: The Getaway” another adventure by Jeff Kinney.


• Jacksonville author Charles Martin’s novel “Long Way Gone” has been named Book of the Year by the Christy awards.

• The Florida Authors and Publishers Association is accepting submissions in 45 categories for the 2018 FAPA President’s Book Awards. Go to for details.

• The 2017 Florida Book Awards deadline is Jan. 13. See for info.

• Deadline Dec. 15 for nominations for the 2018 Florida Lifetime Achievement Award for Writing. See for requirements.


Diana Gabaldon (The “Outlander” series), Lisa Ko (“The Leavers”) and Jodi Picoult (“Small Great Things”) headline the 2018 Savannah Book Festival, Feb. 15-18.

Send Bookmarks information to Announcements must arrive seven days before the Sunday of publication. Events open to all unless stated and always subject to change.

Arts Notes: Upper tier of Cummer gardens have reopened but much work remains in wake of storm - Sunday, November

The upper tier of the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens reopened last weekend. The lower gardens remain closed but people can now visit the Cummer Oak and several sculptures, including “Diana of the Hunt.” A total of 12 dumpsters were filled with debris left in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

The on-site well has been repaired and the power restored to the pump house, allowing irrigation for the first time since the storm. Because the waters that flooded the gardens had high salinity levels, soil tests in the immediate aftermath of the storm showed none of the gardens had plantable soil conditions. It is hoped that heavy watering will flush the soil and more testing has shown some improvement.


The Jon Stickley Trio will perform a concert at 7 p.m. Monday in the Beaches Museum Chapel, 381 Beach Blvd., Jacksonville Beach. Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 on the day of the concert. They can be purchased at or by calling (904) 241-5657.


Since it was first performed in 1985, only two actors have played the role of Ebenezer Scrooge in “Christmas Carole,” the musical version of Charles Dickens’ novella that has been performed 25 times at the Alhambra Theatre & Dining. But after 19 performances by Tony Triano and six by Gary Marachek, Tod Booth, the Alhambra’s former owner, who now produces and directs Alhambra shows, will take over the role when “Christmas Carole” opens Wednesday. Booth called Scrooge “the role of a lifetime” and said that when efforts to secure Triano for the role failed, “it was hard to walk away.”

Performances will be nightly except Mondays and Thanksgiving Day, with matinees on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, through Dec. 24. Tickets, which range from $49.95 to $62, include a meal. They can be purchased at or by calling (904) 641-1212. The show is already a near sell-out.


Apex Theatre Studio plans a busy holiday season with four different shows planned for the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall, 1050 A1A N., Ponte Vedra Beach. First up will be “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged,” which will be performed 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The performances will preceded at 7:30 p.m. by a concert by the band Folk Is People. Tickets are $25.

Also on Apex and the concert hall’s schedule will be the show “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” with performances at 1 and 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 16, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 17. Tickets are $15. David Sedaris’ “The Santaland Diaries” will be performed at 8:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 15, and Saturday, Dec. 16. Those performances will be preceded by a set from the Duffy Bishop Band. Tickets are $20 each.

Finally, there will be performances of “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play,” at 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 21, through Saturday, Dec. 23, with a 2 p.m. matinee Saturday, Dec. 23. Tickets are $25. Tickets for all performances can be purchased at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall, the St. Augustine Amphitheatre box office or at

Apex Theatre Studio, 5150 Palm Valley Road, Unit 205, Ponte Vedra Beach is a non-profit performing arts training center which fosters young artists now in its fourth year of operation. A schedule of classes, intensives and workshops can be found at


At 7 p.m. Saturday the Jacksonville Symphony will perform composer John Williams’ score while the movie “Home Alone” is shown in the Jacoby Symphony Hall in The Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts, 300 Water St. Tickets, which range from $26 to $83, can be purchased at or by calling(904) 354-5547.

Violinist Vivek Jayaraman, a member of the Florida Orchestra in St. Petersburg and former concertmaster for the Canton Symphony Orchestra and the New World Symphony, will be the third candidate for the open concertmaster position to play with the Jacksonville Symphony this season. He will also play with the orchestra during the “German Giants” concert Dec. 1-3.


The Jacksonville Symphony has hired Roger Wight as vice president and general manager. In this position, Wight will work closely with both president and CEO Robert Massey and music director Courtney Lewis in overseeing the production of concerts and programming. Wight will also work closely with the marketing and development teams to engage sponsors and promote concerts.

Wight began his professional career in classical music radio as an announcer for WCLV in Cleveland while studying at the Cleveland Institute of Music. He worked as a classical music recording and show producer at National Public Radio in Washington, D.C. In 2007, Wight moved into the orchestra world when he joined the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra as their director of artistic planning. He then joined the Philadelphia Orchestra as their artistic administrator.


The 52nd annual St. Augustine Art & Craft Festival will be held Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 26, at Francis Field, 29 W. Castillo Drive, St. Augustine. Hours will be 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday. A $2 gate entry donation enters attendees in a free prize drawing for area attractions, restaurants and specialty gifts. There will be musical entertainment both days as well as various art demonstrations and plenty of food and drink.


Entries into the Jacksonville Historical Society’s 15th annual Gingerbread House Extravaganza are due on Saturday or on Monday, Nov. 27, at the society’s Old St. Andrews, 317 A. Philip Randolph Blvd. Old St. Andrews will also be the site of the Extravaganza, which take place Nov. 30 through Dec. 23. It’s free to enter the show, but a “builder’s permit” is necessary. Go to www.jaxhistory.or or call (904) 665-0064 for a permit.


Limelight Theatre, 11 Old Mission Ave., St. Augustine, will hold auditions for “Fool for Love” at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 26, in the Koger-Gamache Studio Theatre. Those auditioning should bring a headshot and resume and be prepared to read from the script. Show dates are Jan. 18-Feb. 11.


The St. Andrew’s Day Evensong will be presented at 5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 26, at the St. Johns Cathedral, 256 E. Church St. Timothy Tuller will conduct the Cathedral Choir in works by Mendelssohn, Barnard and Ossewaarde. Tuller will also play the Chorale in E Major for the organ. The concert is free.


The natural beauty of the state is on exhibit through Dec. 31 in “Fantastic Florida,” an exhibit at the St. Augustine Art Association, 22 Marine St. The exhibit is free to the public. Gallery hours are noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and 2-5 p.m. Sunday.

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I Do, I Do: She wanted nothing to do with a football player - Sunday, November

Bolles School graduate Javontee Herndon was out celebrating a victory as a wide receiver for the San Diego Chargers in 2014 when he met Jasmine Buggs through mutual friends. They both have a different memory of their first conversation, but the bottom line was that Jasmine was not at all interested in dating a professional football player. She continued turning him down, explaining that she was working three jobs and was too busy. Javontee wasn’t ready to take “no” for an answer so he decided to show up at her workplace. Jasmine recalls having no make-up on and being so surprised to see him. “I felt like him being an athlete, it wasn’t going to work. I definitely had my guard up for a really long time.”

Finally, Jasmine gave in. She said it was hard to turn Javontee down because he was so respectful. He also told her before they started dating that he wanted her to meet his mother. So Jasmine and Javontee flew across the country to Jacksonville and got the ultimate approval. Jasmine also met other family members, including Javontee’s great-grandmother. Jasmine seemed to win the hearts of everyone, especially Javontee. “I admired how she treated people. She was always positive and uplifting to other people.”

On their 13-month anniversary of dating, Javontee suggested Jasmine get a manicure. She didn’t even take that as a clue that perhaps she would soon be showing off a ring. Meanwhile, Javontee enlisted the girlfriend of a teammate to help him decorate his apartment with flowers and balloons. When Jasmine walked in, she followed a path of rose pedals that led to a letter where Javontee declared his love for her. He told her to close her eyes because he had one more surprise. He then pretended to call a puppy into the room, so she would think that was the gift. But, when she opened her eyes, he was on one knee with the beautiful engagement ring.

Jasmine and Javontee were married on July 7 before 215 guests at the Grand Tradition Estate and Gardens in Fallbrook, Calif. Javontee’s twin brother was his best man. They had a huge wedding party, each with 13 attendants. They cherished the pastor’s message about “How to Maintain a Marriage.” It included a bible and a toolbox with various symbols of items to make their marriage work. The reception followed at the same location. Jasmine and her father choreographed a seven-minute dance that was a mix of old-school and current songs. Somehow they pulled it off, even with only a few practices. Javontee’s favorite part was hearing the various speeches, especially since he forgot to give anyone advance notice of who would be speaking. “They really had to speak from the heart.”

Javontee and Jasmine are living in Dallas, where he is a free-agent and she is a medical assistant.

Jasmine could not be happier that she finally gave in and decided to give Javontee a chance. “I love Javontee’s heart and how he looks out for me and always wants what is best for me.” Javontee enjoys traveling the world with his bride. But, just having each other is what matters most. “We also have fun doing nothing. We love just being together and laughing.”

If you have a wonderful wedding story for “I Do I Do,” please email your suggestion to

Golden wedding anniversaries: Hodges, Denny - Sunday, November


Helen and Frank Denny of Fleming Island celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary with dinner at Ruth’s Chris and a week in Orlando with family. They were married Nov. 17, 1957, at Holy Martyrs Church in Brooklyn, N.Y. Their children are Karen Quinn of Asheville, N.C., Michael Denny of Savannah, Ga., Steven Denny of Lake Asbury, Kim Carter of Fleming Island and Kristi Will of Virginia Beach, Va. The Dennys have 10 grandchildren.


Drusilla and Robert Hodges of Jacksonville celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with a trip to Gatlinburg, Tenn. They were married Nov. 18, 1967, at Berea Baptist Church in Jacksonville. She is the former Drusilla Wilkins. Their children are Cherie Hodges and Rob Hodges, both of Jacksonville. They have two grandchildren.

Engagement announcement: Robinson-Simmons - Sunday, November

Crystal Robinson, daughter of Cindy Kilpatrick and William Kilpatrick of Jacksonville, is engaged to be married to Brandon Simmons, son of Trevinas Adams Simmons and Anthony Simmons of Jacksonville. The wedding is scheduled for Nov. 10, 2018 in Jacksonville.

Book review: A whole new look at ‘Odyssey’ - Sunday, November


Author: Daniel Mendelsohn

Data: Knopf, 320 pages, $26.95

What makes a relationship last?

Self-help shelves offer up-to-the-minute answers based on the latest psychology, sociology and technology. But it turns out the solution has been around for millennia — literally from the time of the ancient Greek poet Homer, best known as author of the tales that make up the Odyssey. Spoiler: according to that epic, in which Odysseus, King of Ithaca, and his wife, Penelope, are separated for 20 post-war years and then reunited, a good marriage is based on homophrosyne, or “like-mindedness.”

It’s a simple enough concept. But in the hands of the classicist, critic and best-selling writer Daniel Mendelsohn, the concept he translates as “like-mindedness”— the memories two people share — becomes a profound meditation on what bonds two people over the course of a lifetime. Not just spouses, either: fathers and sons, siblings, even friends estranged across decades who are pulled back into each other’s orbit because of experiences no one but them could understand.

It’s not an insight readers might expect from “An Odyssey,” in which Mendelsohn narrates how his time teaching the epic to a class of undergraduates drew his 81-year-old father, Jay, back to studying the classics. First Jay sat in as a student in Mendelsohn’s class at Bard College, and then the two took a Mediterranean cruise together, retracing Odysseus’ path and exploits. Jay died a few years after that, and their late-in-life closeness inspires Mendelsohn to find out more about his father — much like the way Telemachus, Odysseus’s son, launches his own journey to discover the truth about the man he knows only from others’ tales.

Equal parts lit-crit class, language lesson and memoir, “An Odyssey alchemizes to create its own unique and compelling sub-genre. But unlike alchemy, which sought to convert base metals into gold, each element of Mendelsohn’s experiment — his story — is already buffed to perfection.

Mendelsohn knows that many people read parts of the Odyssey in high school, but he doesn’t assume any serious familiarity on the reader’s part. That’s a welcome gesture. But as author-professor he goes one brilliant step further: he smoothly, invisibly places his readers in the seminar with his students, sketching the layout and atmosphere of his classroom at Bard College, as well as the roster of co-eds signed up for Classics 125: The Odyssey of Homer, which started at 11:15 a.m. on a cold January in 2011.

Our fellow Bard travelers include students whose insights, questions, and conflicted feelings about the Odyssey over the course of the semester animate and advance our own understanding of one of the West’s most lasting works of literature. And ofcourse, there’s “Daddy” – Mendelsohn always refers to his father as “Daddy” — in a chair that’s angled awkwardly away from both the teenage students and his own son, the authority figure.

Jay may love the classics, but he doesn’t like Odysseus. “I don’t think he’s a hero at all,” he announces early in the term, declaring Odysseus a disastrous leader who lost his 12 ships, failed to protect any of his troops and frequently cries. The crying is especially galling to Jay, who was in the Army during World War II. He maintains a stoicism about military service that carried through to decades of a different kind of service as faithful husband, father of five and loyal employee of Grumman, the aerospace company near his home on Long Island.

That dedication to duty kept Jay from pursuing his own interest in the classics, as well as other professional goals he’d once targeted. That was what Mendelsohn and his siblings had always thought, anyway. As son gets to know father during the class and the cruise, hints of new narratives nudge aside long-accepted stories. But it’s hard to pierce a legend, even when it’s just generation-old family lore.

Although the two men grow closer, overcoming much of the distance they used to feel, Mendelsohn’s still-incomplete understanding of his father prompts him to seek even further. So after Jay’s death, Mendelsohn schedules a series of visits to his father’s long-time friends and close relatives to piece together the events that influenced Jay’s approach to life, which is so fundamentally different from his own.

Although the lit-crit and linguistic threads are woven just as tightly into the texture of An Odyssey as the more traditional elements of memoir, they don’t overwhelm. That’s because Mendelsohn doesn’t lecture, either as a character or a narrator. His storytelling leaves room for other teachers — including his current students, his former professors and relatives who decode multi-layered family myths.

All of these relationships, no matter how long they were left untended, are grounded in like-mindedness — nourished by memories, loyalty, love or some combination of the three. They continue to yield an emotional bounty, even after a half-century. That may not sound like a long time compared to what transpires in the Odyssey, but for mere mortals, it’s epic.

Alison Buckholtz is author of “Standing By: The Making of an American Military Family in a Time of War.”