Tuesday, April 22, 2014

MOVIE REVIEW: Heaven is for Real

(In theaters 4.16.14)
 
HEAVEN IS
FOR REAL
 ________________________
 
Mmm.
Feeling hungry?
Well, get ready.
Here comes
a Twinkie!
________________________



Connor Corum as Colton Burpo.
Is heaven for real? 
Is it beautiful?
Is Jesus there?  
Does God love us?

All of these questions are addressed, and the answers revealed,  in the new Hollywood smash, Heaven is for Real — a delightful family film that's also as dangerous as a 40-something divorcee  with a Xanax script and a loaded pistol.

Directed by Randall Wallace, the movie is based on the bajillion-selling book by Todd Burpo. It's a wonderful story of Burpo's four-year-old son Colton's visit to Heaven during a surgical procedure an experience that the child recounts in glorious, vivid detail.

Greg Kinnear and Kelly Reilly
as Todd and Sonja Burpo.
The story is engaging. The cast, featuring Oscar-nominated actor Greg KinnearKelly Reilly, Lane Styles, Margo Martindale, Thomas Haden Church and Connor Corum  is superb. And in its opening weekend, the movie raked in more than $25 million at the box office, against its  $12 million budget. A sweet success, indeed.

So what's the problem? It's a "Twinkie."

Yes, Heaven is for real. It is beautiful. Jesus is there waiting for us. And God loves us. But the projected message of the movie is that God's love alone is a guarantee of our place in Heaven.


Heaven is for Real delivers
family entertainment.
And that's where Heaven is for Real jumps the track. When a grieving mother asks Pastor Burpo whether or not her son is in Heaven, he assures her that God's love is sufficient. As a pastor offering comfort to a mother who had lost a child, Burpo's words were   kind and heartfelt but  they contradict God's Word making for a dangerous big screen message.
___________________________

Whosoever has the
Son has life; whoever
does not have God's
Son does not have life.
1 John 5:12 (NLT)
___________________________

If the perceived message of the movie is in fact true, then the price that Jesus Christ paid at the Cross for our sins was worthless. The "stripes" that he bore and the blood that he shed his death and ultimate resurrection, were all pointless. Be sure that if any of us gave up our son to be crucified for the sake of all mankind, we would place considerable value on that sacrifice. God does love us very much. That's why he gave up His Son at Calvary. Simply put, Jesus Christ is the ONE and ONLY key to Heaven's gateway. And the really good news is, salvation —  the complete assurance of a place in Heaven is available to us ALL. And it's a gift that is absolutely FREE. We need only to reach out and accept it by accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior.
 
A positive and
lighthearted message.
Heaven is for Real is a cute family movie that comes at a time when we really need more family movies. Heck, if I had any youngins, I'd take them all to this one and then we'd hit the ol' DQ on the way home.
 
In sum, while it does deliver a huge entertainment payoff,  Heaven is for Real is a product of Hollywood. And I strongly encourage folks  not to be fooled by a feel-good, but to use the movie's positive, lighthearted message merely as a springboard in which to dive deeper into God's message.
 
I highly recommend the NLT (New Living Translation) as a fantastic place to start. Get the scoop HERE.
 
And if like me, you possess a true passion for movies, I also recommend another current blockbuster, God's NOT Dead. If Heaven is for Real connects with you and successfully establishes the existence of Heaven, then God's NOT Dead will close the deal by showing you how to get there.

-Christopher Long
(April 2014)

Author Christopher Long's latest book,
is available NOW on Amazon.
 

Friday, April 18, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Paul Stanley "Face the Music"

Available 4.8.14
FACE THE MUSIC:
A Life Exposed
Paul Stanley
(HarperOne)
 ________________________
 
With three of the
original "Fab Four"
having released
their own version
of "KISStory" in
the last decade,
only one piece of
the dysfunctional 
puzzle remained.
And this is the one
I've been waiting for.
________________________

Superstar endorsements from the likes of Jimmy Page, Elton John and Dave Grohl grace the back cover and introductory page of FACE THE MUSIC: A Life Exposed the long-awaited personal tell-all bio from co-founding KISS frontman, Paul Stanley.

Seemingly honest and transparent, Stanley begins sharing his life story while leading readers through his nightly pre-concert regimen. First, I wipe my face with an astringent, to close the pours. Then I grab a container of "clown white, " a thick, cream-based makeup. I dip my fingers into the tub of white goo and start applying it all over my face, leaving some space open around my right eye, where the rough outline of the star will be. And in short order before he can even lead us to the next step  sketching out that iconic star with the pointed end of a beautician's comb, the rock legend sets the stage for his rollercoaster tale.
 
PAUL STANLEY
More than the typical "rags to riches" rock and roll saga,  FACE THE MUSIC  is the rather unlikely story of how Stanley  Bert Eisen a Jewish kid of German / Polish descent, raised in a less than affluent part of Manhattan during the '50s and '60s, beat the odds not only by overcoming a disability, but also by achieving unimaginable success.
 
I was born with an ear deformity called  microtia, in which  the  outer ear cartilage  fails to form properly and, to varying degrees  of severity, leaves you with just a crumpled mass of cartilage. I had nothing more than a stump on the right side of my head. And my ear canal was also closed, so I was deaf.
 
Told in an engaging, no-nonsense style, the "Starchild" recounts in vivid, heartbreaking detail how he was taunted and ridiculed from an early age by other children who would wield such verbal daggers as, "Stanley the one-eared monster." He further reveals the dark realities of growing up in a  dysfunctional home  with less than nurturing parents and a one-time  institutionalized sister who once came at him with a hammer and then proceeded to use said hammer to break down his bedroom door, Jack Torrance-style.
 
Simmons and Stanley, circa 2012.
Of course most of Stanley's story centers around his epic 40-year career with KISS, including details of his often volatile personal and professional  relationship with musical partner, Gene Simmons. And make no mistake, much energy is spent on maligning original KISS members, guitarist  Ace Frehley and drummer Peter Criss. In fact, despite the  love, kindness and God-factor Stanley weaves into his story, his relentless snarky commentary regarding his two former bandmates tends to dilute his effectiveness. C'mon fellas, enough is enough already with the bashing. I expected that kind of crass language and nastiness from Peter Criss' book, but I was disappointed that Stanley didn't seek a higher road  with his.  Conversely, mad props are extended ad nauseam to current drummer Eric Singer and guitarist Tommy Thayer.

Stanley does however, give credit where its due in portraying original KISS manager Bill Aucoin and choreographer / road manager / songwriter / producer  Sean Delaney, yet the role of Casablanca Records president Neil Bogart is somewhat minimalized. And while every name and juicy detail of every one of Stanley's Playmate / actress liaisons made it into print, the names and stories of such key KISStory players as John Hartman, Peter "Moose" Oreckinto, Carl Glickman, Larry Harris, Jeff Franklin, Fritz Postlethwaite, Wally Meyrowitz, C.K. Lendt and many others are all noticeably MIA.

PAUL STANLEY: FAMILY MAN
(Good stuff, indeed!)
But jamming a 60-year life story of this magnitude into a mere 450+ pages certainly is a tall order. And be sure that despite glossing over a few prime eras, omitting  some key players and bypassing such insightful topics as  the KISS  arena football team, coffee shop, miniature golf course and his series of hip replacement surgeries,  FACE THE MUSIC certainly does deliver a slew of salacious stories and plenty of "WOW!" moments. However, one of its biggest payoffs is Stanley's more recent accounts offstage starring as a dedicated husband and proud father. A recommended read for KISS  fans everywhere.
 
-Christopher Long
(April 2014)


_______________________________________________________________________

ADDITIONAL KISS-RELATED FEATURES FROM CHRISTOPHER LONG
 
Concert Review (July 28, 2012 / Tampa, FL)
Ace Frehley - Anomaly (Album Review)
_______________________________________________________________________
 
 
Author Christopher Long's latest book
is available NOW on Amazon.
 

Monday, April 14, 2014

RECORD REVIEW: Robert Randolph & the Family Band "We Walk This Road"

ROBERT RANDOLPH
& THE FAMILY BAND
We Walk This Road
Warner Brothers
 
I just found this piece
in a file containing 
some of my old
old reviews not
sure how it slipped
through the cracks.
Well, better late
than never. Right?
 ____________________________
 
Described (by me) as the "Jimi Hendrix” of pedal steel, Robert Randolph released his 2001 debut record, Live at the Wetlands, the (then) 23-year-old electrified the music world with his unique blend of authentic, funky R&B and traditional blues. Although his subsequent records, Unclassified (2003) and Colorblind (2006) were geared more towards reaching a mainstream audience, Randolph returns in 2010 with We Walk This Road, a record that brings him back to his early gospel / blues roots.
 
Produced by Grammy-winner T-Bone Burnett (Elvis Costello, The Wallflowers, Counting Crows), We Walk This Road is an all-star effort featuring session appearances from the likes of Leon Russell, drum legend Jim Keltner and the slide guitar work of Ben Harper as well as songwriting contributions from Bob Dylan (“Shot of Love“), Prince (“Walk Don’t Walk”) and John Lennon (“I Don’t Want to be a Soldier Mama”).
 
 
Highlights include the downhome gospel-flavored “Traveling Shoes” (featuring the signature falsetto back-up vocals of longtime bassist Danyel Morgan), the aforementioned Dylan penned “Shot of Love” and “I Still Belong to Jesus” which possesses the rich, full-bodied flavor of Fleetwood Mac circa 1977.
 
Simply put, We Walk This Road is honest, pure and refreshingly inspirational. Make no mistake, Robert Randolph is back and Jesus and I both agree that this one is the real deal.
 
-Christopher Long
(July 2010)
 
 
Robert Randolph Discography
Live at the Wetlands - 2002
Unclassified - 2003
Colorblind - 2006
We Walk This Road - 2010
Lickety Split - 2013
 
 
Author Christopher Long's latest book,
is available NOW on Amazon.
 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

RECORD REVIEW: Saliva "Rise Up"

THE LATEST FROM SALIVA
(In stores and online: April 29, 2014)
SALIVA
Rise Up
Rum Bum Records

Back in action
after a two-year
hiatus, Saliva
returns to the
scene with a
new frontman
and a blistering
new record.
___________________________

Produced by Bobby Huff (3 Doors Down / Shinedown / Halestorm), the eighth album from Saliva, delivers 12 explosive tracks sure to delight longtime fans while appealing to a potential new legion of faithful followers.

"We think it's the best album we've done
since probably the first or second one."
-Dave Novotny
 
Leading the charge is the group's dynamic new frontman, Bobby Amaru. The Jacksonville, Florida native replaces original singer, Josey Scott, who left the Memphis-based band in 2012.  And along with founding members, guitarist Wayne Swinny, bassist Dave Novotny and longtime drummer Paul Crosby, Rise Up recaptures the guts, groove and glory of such Saliva staples as "Click Click Boom,"  "Always" and "Ladies and Gentlemen."

"It was just one of the most enjoyable experiences
that I ever had in the music business."
-Wayne Swinny

Brand spankin' new guitar-driven anthems abound including the guaranteed fist-pumping leadoff single/title track, "Redneck-Freakshow" and "Army."  However, it's bona fide golden nuggets such as "She Can Sure Hide Crazy," "Choke" and "Closer" that make for the record's most compelling moments.
 
"Closer, that's like a relationship going through
a whole break-up thing, seeing yourself
from each other's perspective kind of deal."
-Bobby Amaru

SALIVA
Combining the no-nonsense nuts of Papa Roach with the songwriting edge of Hoobastank, while remaining true to the Saliva sound, Rise Up delivers across the board. And as long as they continue to maintain dysfunctional relationships with crazy women, the band clearly still has plenty of gas in the tank and tread on the tires.
 
I fell for every curve, twisted by her curse,
I never saw the psycho coming.
You can fake it so good, should live in Hollywood,
 where you can be a dime a dozen.
(From "She Can Sure Hide Crazy")

 
-Christopher Long
(April 2014)

Author Christopher Long's latest book,
is available NOW on Amazon.
 
 

Friday, April 11, 2014

GALADRIELLE ALLMAN: Author Appearance (4.9.14)

In stores now
from Random House
GALADRIELLE ALLMAN
(Books-A-Million / Jacksonville, FL / 4.9.14)

With a hot new
book currently
in stores, author
Galadrielle Allman
is out on the road,
meeting, greeting
and signing copies
of her riveting
debuta beautiful
tribute to her dad,
Duane Allman.
___________________________

Author Galadrielle Allman
It was an intimate gathering of family, friends and fans a homecoming of sorts for Galadrielle Allman. The first-time author revealed in short order that she'd grown up in the Jacksonville area and had spent considerable time during her younger days at the very Orange Park shopping mall that housed her Books-A-Million appearance.
 
Her book, PLEASE BE WITH ME: A Song for My Father, Duane Allman arrived on March 4th via Random House and has been meeting with rave reviews from critics and readers alike.
 
Gracious, soft spoken and unassuming, Allman began her in-store author appearance precisely at 7PM by reading excerpts from  PLEASE BE WITH ME, including  the eloquently written introduction and an insightful chapter recounting the birth of her father's iconic band, The Allman Brothers.

w/ Galadrielle Jacksonville, FL 4.9.14
(Photo: Michelle Wilson)
Allman then opened the floor to a lively Q&A segment, followed by a signing. And from the woman with four copies of Allman's book who'd traveled three hours to attend the event to enthusiastic friends and family (Hey, isn't that Derek Trucks' brother over there  next to the rack of Grateful Dead oven mitts?), a great time was had by all.
 
Acknowledged by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the greatest rock guitarists of all time (second only to Jimi Hendrix), Duane Allman was killed in a tragic motorcycle accident in 1971 at age 24, just as his star was rising  Galadrielle was only two years old. And simply put, her book is well-written and heartfelt.  Culled from personal interviews with the people  who knew Duane Allman best, PLEASE BE WITH ME is one woman's pursuit of closure and connection to the father she never knew.
 
Yet despite the allure of endless salacious behind-the-scenes tales of sex, drugs and rock & roll, the true payoff for readers is Allman's writing skills and her knack for compelling storytelling. Even for the casual fan of her father's timeless and much-loved music, PLEASE BE WITH ME is a must-read.

-Christopher Long
(April 2014)

Author Christopher Long's latest book,
is available NOW on Amazon.
 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

SHOUT IT OUT LOUD (Pre-Order My New Book)

 
SHOUT  IT
OUT  LOUD
Stories of Fast Times and 
Faith, From the Show Biz Guru
 
(Pre-Order My New Book)
 
 COMING
5.13.14 (Kindle)
5.27.14 (Print)
__________________________
 
 
Dozens of fun pics!
It's been more than two years in the making, and it's finally almost here.
 
Join me on my journey from mosh pits to missions fields in my upcoming third book, SHOUT IT OUT LOUD. The sequel to my 2012 release, C'MON! it delivers 200 pages worth of stories of fast times and faith, dozens of photos and a slew of hilarious illustrations.
 
The Kindle version will be released through Amazon for $6.99 on 5.13.14. (Link coming soon.) The limited edition print version will be released via mail order for $15.00 on 5.27.14.
 
Illustrations by Wendrell Tillett.
Pre-order your
print copy of
SHOUT IT OUT LOUD
TODAY!
 
Limited Edition Only 1,000 units.
 
Each copy personally numbered and
signed by the author THAT'S ME!

FREE SHIPPING
(Limited time)
 
Checks and money orders payable to:
Digital Books International
379 Harwood Avenue
Satellite Beach, FL 32937
 
*Please include email address.
 
SHOUT IT OUT LOUD:
 
Summer book tour dates coming soon!
 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

HAPPY BIRTHDAY (My Blog Turns the Big 0-4!)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY
(My Blog Turns the Big 0-4!)

300 posts.
An array of reviews.
A slew of stories.
200,000 visits.
 Endless new friends.
Wow — it's been
a great four years!
________________________
 
 
My first book signing.
(Orlando, FL - April 2010)
April 2010. My first book was set to arrive in stores around the world. My "people" all urged me to start a blog. But there was one problem. I didn't know what a blog was. Okay, maybe I did, but I certainly didn't grasp the true value of having one, nor did I possess the  skills necessary to create and launch an effective site.
 
Yes, I was pretty na├»ve to the world of blogging four years ago. MySpace was fizzling out and Facebook was rolling in. And as I've stated  previously, I approached  my new blog merely as an extension of my  existing social networks. Hence, my content was limited to posts regarding book-related updates, my upcoming personal appearances and what I had at Starbucks that morning. In short, my blog was boring! But I wasn't terribly concerned, as I didn't think that anyone would ever actually come here — I was just going through the motions.
 
My second book arrived in January 2012.
(Get it NOW on Amazon)
But, as they say, practice makes perfect. Six months after launching my blog, I learned how to monitor my stats. And to my dismay, I discovered that the site had actually received nearly 2,000 visits. Hmm, if that many people were stopping by to read drivel, my audience could potentially explode if I put forth a little effort and actually created quality content.
 
Since then, my traffic has sky rocketed. I now post updates several times a week. And from faith and fashion to pop culture and politics, I present a wide range of topics, all based on my personal perspectives and experiences.
 
Over the last four years, I've posted some real  duds. (I've hopefully now deleted all of those.) However, I have posted some pretty snappy stuff too. And a few of the most popular features have included my 2012 review of Hoobastank's Fight or Flight record, my 2012 review of KISS drummer Peter Criss' book Makeup to Breakup, my 2013 concert review of Chicago and my  2014 movie review of God's Not Dead. If you can possibly manage the time, I invite you to check them out.
 
My third book will be released on 5.13.14.
(Get the scoop HERE)
In 2012, I debuted my "Guest Blogger" op — a  forum where fresh, new writers can contribute their own unique and compelling work to my blog. You can find all of my "Guest" content HERE. And I further encourage and welcome all new writers who have something say and are looking for a platform to reach out to me. I'd love to bring you onboard!
 
I've had a lot to say about a lot of stuff since my first book arrived  in stores  four years ago. My second book was released in 2012. Book #3 will be released on 5.13.14.
 
Thanks to everyone who has visited my blog and taken the time to read my work. It's humbling to see how my audience has grown — I'm blessed and truly grateful. And be sure that I'll continue to keep everybody  up-to-date  with not only book-related posts, but all things awesome.

-Christopher Long
(April 2014)



Friday, April 4, 2014

THRIFT STORE ADVENTURES (PT. XIV)

My 13th all-time favorite T-shirt.
THRIFT STORE
ADVENTURES
(PT. XIV)

What better way to
spend a picture
perfect Florida
spring morning
than hitting some
of my favorite
beachside thrift
store locations.
_______________________________________________________________________

80° and sunny. The birds were singing and the beach was buzzing. It was far too beautiful outside to stay cooped-up indoors, chained to the computer, working on deadlines all day. My writing colleague, Michelle Wilson, agreed. So we teamed up to embark on a mini-tour of our three favorite local thrifting destinations — Holy Name of Jesus, Second Wind and The Lamb Shoppe. And what amazing finds awaited us!

 
 
 
I never thought
that I'd ever
be too tall for
anything.
 
RATS!



 
 
 
YES!
My collection
is finally
complete.





 
 
 
Are you kidding?
A vintage
gift bag for just
fiddy cent.
A true find!



 
 
 
I can now
finally start the
tribute band
that I've always
dreamed about.



 
That's right —
a Barbie
playset for $30. (What a steal.)
 
The guys are
gonna be SO
freakin' jealous!


'Til next time, keep on thriftin'!

-Christopher Long
(April 2014)


Author Christopher Long's latest book,
is available NOW on Amazon.
 

Monday, March 31, 2014

TOP TEN GREATEST ALLMAN BROTHERS TUNES (Guest Post)

Photo: Courtesy of the estate of Twiggs Lyndon.
 
 TOP TEN GREATEST
ALLMAN BROTHERS TUNES

My "Guest" contributor
Michelle Wilson returns to
wrap up "March Madness"
with another one of her
engaging Top Ten lists.
 
There are two things that
I know about Michelle:
1) She hates Eric Clapton.
2) She loves The Allmans.

______________________________
 


With the 45th anniversary of the Allman Brothers Band upon us, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to pull out the old Top Ten list. Honing this one down is no easy task, and EVERYONE may have variations, mutations and even (more than likely) objections. I know I will catch major heat for this, but "Jessica" and "Ramblin' Man" do not make the cut. Yes, they are great songs, but thanks to radio saturation they have become the "bubblegum" ABB for me. So here are my Top Ten picks:
 
 
10.
(1969)
Written by Gregg Allman
From the album The Allman Brothers Band 
 
9.
(1971)
Written by Blind Willie McTell
From the album At Fillmore East
 
8.
(1972)
Written by Gregg Allman
From the album Eat a Peach
 
7.
(1972)
Written by Sonny Boy Williamson /
Marshall Sehorn / Elmore James
From the album Eat a Peach
 
6.
(1970)
Written by Gregg Allman
From the album Idlewild South
 
5.
(1969)
Written by Gregg Allman
From the album The Allman Brothers Band 
 
 4.
(1970)
Written by Richard Betts
From the album Idlewild South 
 
3.
(1971)
Written by Gregg Allman / Duane Allman /
Richard Betts / Butch Trucks /
Berry Oakley / Jai Johanny Johanson
From the album At Fillmore East
 
2.
(1970)
Written by Gregg Allman / Robert Kim Payne
From the album Idlewild South
  
1.
(1972)
Written by Steve Alaimo / Gregg Allman
From the album Eat a Peach
 
 
Honorable Mention
 
(1979) 
Written by Richard Betts
From the album Enlightened Rogues
 
(1973)
Written by Richard Betts
From the album Brothers and Sisters
 
(1970)
Written by Richard Betts
From the album Idlewild South 
 
"Pegasus"
(1979)
Written by Richard Betts
From the album Enlightened Rogues

(1972)
Written by Duane Allman
From the album Eat a Peach
 
Following the release of Galadrielle Allman’s poignant story, Please Be With Me: A Song For My Father, Duane Allman, and Alan Paul’s sweeping ABB bible, One Way Out, fans have gained a new and enlightened perspective into the ABB realm. After perusing Gregg Allman’s autobiography, My Cross to Bear (co-written with Alan Light – read my review at the link below), I moved on to Ms. Allman’s moving tribute to her father, and then Mr. Paul’s in-depth study of the band from a 25-year journalistic perspective (look for my reviews of both within the coming weeks at www.Ink19.com). I highly recommend reading them in this order. All three books are peppered with iconic photographs taken by the likes of Kirk West, Stephen Paley and even Twiggs Lyndon.
 
So what’s on your Top 10 ABB list? I encourage everyone to comment and share!
 
-Michelle Wilson
(March 2014)
 
 
 
 
Check out
Michelle Wilson's
recent review of
Gregg Allman's
My Cross to Bear
 HERE.
 
 
 
 
__________________________________________________________

BECOME A GUEST BLOGGER!
Do you have something to say, something to get off your chest or an amazing story to share? From pop culture views and reviews to political commentary to messages of faith, my blog is a great platform for writers to showcase their work. There are very limited criteria for submitting a post. Your views don't even have to be in line with mine — just create and contribute a compelling, well-written story. Interested? Send me and email.

-Chris
AuthorChristopherLong@yahoo.com
__________________________________________________________