Saturday, July 4, 2015

MOVIE REVIEW: "Ted 2"

MOVIE REVIEW
Ted 2
___________________________

That cantankerous ol' cuss
has returned to the silver
screen once again  starring
in THE celluloid cesspool
sensation of the summer.
___________________________

Despite its lowest common denominator filth factor, I must admit that Ted did make me laugh — out loud — a lot back in the summer of 2012. In fact, in the spirit of full disclosure, I'll also confess that I saw the film, twice. However, in my review, I pointed out that comedy genius, Seth MacFarlane, is likely capable of "raising the bar," and I further expressed my hope that he might create a truly clever, higher quality product the next time. Hence, there I was, standing at the front of the line for the 10AM opening day showing of Ted 2.

Two matinee tickets: $8
Required treats: $19

Liam Neeson's cameo
in Ted 2: PRICELESS!
A proverbial petri dish of penis jokes and F-bombs, Ted 2 proved to be another well-calculated, two-hour commercial for sexual immorality and dope smoking. Yet despite my disappoint in the film's (expected) lowbrow, juvenile content and regurgitated storyline, it made me laugh — out loud — a lot. Oh, how I miss junior high!

Played by MacFarlane, the infamous, animated teddy returns  "cuddly" as ever — singing, dancing and firing offensive one-liners with marksman-like precision. And in his reprisal of Ted's "thunder buddy for life," John Bennett, Oscar-nominated actor Mark Wahlberg is as likable and hunky as always. Played famously by Amanda Seyfried, Bennett's super-sexy new love interest, Samantha is a fetching delight to behold, while Jessica Barth sizzles from start to finish in her returning role as Ted's (now) wife Tami-Lynn. And I'd be remiss to not offer kudos to Emmy-nominated actor Giovanni Ribisi for bringing the déjà vu-like tension, as Ted's nemesis, Donny.

Arguably even hotter than Wahlberg (L),
Seyfried (R), made Ted 2 worth every
penny that I paid for my $4 matinee ticket. 
Ted 2 boasts a slew of all-star cameos. Morgan Freeman delivered an engaging performance as famed defense attorney, Patrick Meighan and Liam Neeson's brief appearance as the "creeper," purchasing a box of Trix, was for me, the film's highlight. But be sure that Ted 2 also oozes lowlights galore. How on earth Jay Leno and Tom Brady ever were roped into their embarrassing blips baffles me. It couldn't have been that much money. Could it? #WeNeedNewAgents

There's really not much else to say about Ted 2. If you hated the first installment, you'll likely hate the sequel even more. However, if consuming complete cultural crap is your bag, you'll likely adore this cinematic masterpiece. Bring on the fresh cakes, please!

-Christopher Long
(July 2015)


The latest from author Christopher Long
is available NOW on Amazon.

Also from Christopher Long...
Get it on Amazon.

Currently in development...

Sunday, June 28, 2015

'80s CONCERT FLASHBACKS (Pt. III): Kiss - 1983

'80s CONCERT
FLASHBACKS
(Pt. III)
KISS
1983
__________________________

When it comes to rock
concerts, the real story
rarely plays out onstage.
And throughout this six-
part summer series, I'll
be sharing several of my
most memorable concert
experiences and mishaps.
An excerpt from my 2012
book, C'MON!, this story
recounts one of my first
up-close-and-personal
rock star encounters.
__________________________

The first time that I met the members of KISS was during their Lick it Up tour in Lakeland, Florida in December 1983. After experiencing some lean years in the early 1980s, the band was at the time enjoying some renewed popularity after recently dropping their legendary trademark make-up and costumes. Original members Peter Criss and Ace Frehley were now out of the KISS picture and were both pursuing dubious solo careers. This finally left Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley free to call all of the shots. And in an attempt to compete with such new leading hard rock acts of the day as Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and Scorpions, Simmons and Stanley seemingly had surmised that shtick was out and musicianship was in. The band’s revamped line-up featured guitar wiz Vinnie Vincent and powerhouse drummer Eric Carr.

Although in the moment, I was thoroughly impressed with the show that night, in hindsight, I recognized that despite suddenly generating larger crowds, the Lick it Up show paled in comparison to the band's spectacular Creatures of the Night production that I'd seen at the same venue just ten months earlier. The audio mix was thin and brash-sounding. And simply put, the mystique had been exterminated. Seeing Paul Stanley wiggling and prancing in flats was less than thrilling. And quite honestly, without his iconic kabuki-faced persona, Gene Simmons was now about as intimidating as Tyne Daly


I was hanging out after the show in the lounge of Lakeland’s Huntley Hotel where I was staying with my girlfriend, Trish. In fact, after a four-year, on again-off-again high school sweetheart-type relationship, we recently had become engaged. We were also both longtime dedicated KISS Freaks. I never thought I’d actually meet any members of the band, so when they came walking into the hotel lounge after the concert, it blew my mind. I had idolized these guys for years and I planned to tell them all about it.

Eric Carr was completely unimpressed by my revelations. As he strutted to the bar with a cock-rock swagger, he fluffed his huge head of hair and informed me that I could ask him only one question and then I’d have to “go away.” And I wasn’t to ask him any “KISS stuff” either because as he told me, he was “off duty.” Granted, I probably had gotten a little over excited about meeting the guy, but in rock and roll, when you’re on tour, especially while being cool, hanging out at the hotel bar after the show, you’re never off duty!

Vinnie Vincent, on the other hand, was extremely cordial. He happily spent time talking to fans in the hotel lobby, posing for pictures, and signing autographs. The only odd thing about Vinnie (at that time) was that he had a tight grasp on a folded pink piece of paper. At one point he accidentally dropped it on the ground. I bent over to pick it up for him and he freaked out. “I got it! I got it!” he exclaimed as he snatched it up off the floor, once again quickly clutching it to his chest. To this day I still wonder what was on that paper.

Me, Vinnie Vincent and that
mysterious pink piece of paper.
Then in walked Gene Simmons. To say that he has an intimidating presence is an understatement. Even without his infamous seven-inch dragon boots he still had to practically duck to get through the doorway as he entered the hotel lounge.

I was 21 at the time and playing drums in a promising up-and-coming band called Trixx. However, my people skills were lacking and I had limited experience being around rock stars. So I was taken aback when Simmons completely ignored me and immediately took up with my blond 19-year-old fiancée. He sat Trish on his lap and began running his hand up under her black leather mini skirt while making various sexually explicit comments. Ten minutes earlier I didn’t think that I’d ever be fortunate enough to meet Gene Simmons. Now he was literally seducing my chick in front of the entire bar.

Not willing to accept this humiliation for another second I thought I’d get my hero’s attention by impressing him with my incredible wit. I worked my way right up next to the cozy couple and delivered what I thought was a delightful and hilarious comment about Simmons’ former girlfriend, Cher. I now realize that it was a stupid thing to say, but I was young and naïve and I had to make my presence known. Apparently I was the only one in the room who found any humor in my comment. Like right out of a classic western movie, the entire bar seemed to go silent as the crowd around us backed up. I think the lounge pianist in the corner even stopped playing. With one hand still under Trish’s skirt, Simmons made a fist with the other and shook it in my face. “I haven’t had to use this in a very long time,” he warned me. “Don’t make me use it now!”

Gene Simmons weighing his options 
bag my chick, kick my ass, or both.
I couldn’t believe it. I was finally face to face with “The Demon” and instead of wooing him with my endearing charm, he wanted to knock me out! He then looked at Trish, who was still sitting on his lap, and asked, “Are you with this guy?” And as if the situation couldn’t possibly get worse, she replied, “No. I’ve never seen him before in my life.”

I finally managed to pry Trish off Simmons’ lap and with my tail between my legs, I quietly led her back to our room. I’d just been treated like a common fool by my hero and denied by the girl who I was about to marry. But despite the feeling of total humiliation, my first personal KISS experience only further fueled my burning desire to achieve my own success in the rock world.

Ah, what a profound lesson to learn at a young age  fame equals power and money equals power. If you possess either, you have a definite advantage in life. And if you possess both, you’ve got the world in the palm of your hand. Strangers will be at your beck and call and you can steal any chick from any guy at any place and any time. And that ain’t a sexist point of view either, folks. I’d watch this scenario of both men and women compromising their values to be near their rock idols play out countless times throughout my music biz experiences over the next 30 years.

And BTW, there were NO post-show "Starchild" sightings that night. Yeah, I was bummed too.

-Christopher Long
(June 2015)

_________________________

Check out my entire
'80s Concert Flashbacks
series...

Van Halen - 1980
Shalamar - 1981 (Coming Soon)
Cheap Trick - 1982 (Coming Soon)
KISS - 1983
Frehley's Comet - 1987 (Coming Soon)
Debbie Gibson - 1989
__________________________

Find ALL of my
KISS-related features
HERE.
__________________________



The latest from author Christopher Long
is available NOW on Amazon.

Also from Christopher Long...
Get it on Amazon.

Currently in development...

Friday, June 26, 2015

'80s CONCERT FLASHBACKS (Pt. II): Debbie Gibson - 1989

'80s CONCERT
FLASHBACKS
(Pt. II)
Debbie Gibson
1989
_________________________

When it comes to live
concerts, the real story
rarely plays out onstage.
And throughout this six-
part summer series, I'll
be sharing several of my
most memorable personal
experiences and mishaps.
An excerpt from my 2014
book, Shout it out Loud,
this story took place at
the tail end of the glorious
decade of decadence.
_________________________

Up against the wall! DO IT NOW! 

This wasn’t the first time that I’d found myself, spread eagle, and being patted-down by “the man.” But this wasn’t a DUI interrogation. It wasn’t an airport security checkpoint. And it wasn’t a drug deal gone bad. It was a Debbie Gibson concert.

I'd just turned 27 in December 1989, and reigning pop princess Debbie Gibson was hot as a pistol. In less than three years, the 19-year-old singer / songwriter from Brooklyn, New York had racked up two consecutive platinum-selling Top 10 albums and an impressive string of eight Top 40 singles, including such hits as “Only in My Dreams,” “Shake Your Love” and “Lost in Your Eyes.” Her high-energy music was as fresh and contagious as her youthful “girl-next-door” persona. Simply put, Debbie Gibson’s songs and oft played MTV videos made me happy. The Gibson brand also had the same affect on my (then) 24-year-old brother, Greg. And when we heard that Deb was coming to Orlando on her Electric Youth world tour, we were the first in line for tickets front row, center stage. Psyched, indeed! However, very few others at the concert that night would be quite as enthusiastic about our presence. 

In recent years, I've either sold off or thrown out
much of my rock and roll "collectible" crap. But
I just can't part with my Debbie Gibson memorabilia. 
As we navigated through the sea of 10,000 eight-year-old girls and their soccer moms while en route from the parking garage to the entrance of the Orlando Arena, I quickly noticed that (next to my brother) I was the tallest person at the show a first for me. One by one, everybody was being ushered into the venue, posthaste everyone that is, except yours truly. I found myself being pulled out of the line and “encouraged” to “spread ‘em” just as I was approaching the turnstile. Perhaps it was my Motörhead T-shirt that first raised suspicions. Maybe it was my near waist-length hair, piercings or backwards ball cap that made me stand out from the crowd. Or maybe it was the undeniable fact that I clearly wasn’t a parent, and that I was a good 15-20 years older than the "typical" Debbie Gibson fan. But for whatever reason, I’d been flagged as a “suspicious.” My passion and intentions were as genuine as anyone’s in attendance, yet I was perceived as being “different" even dangerous. Consequently, there I stood, being nearly strip-searched as everybody else was allowed to enter the coliseum without even as much as a second look from the concert security force. Even my brother was waved right in which was particularly disturbing considering that he was the one carrying the gun. It’s a long story. However, I was finally "cleared," and granted admittance into the venue, just moments prior to showtime.

“Hey, c’mere!” the rather intense-looking, beefy brute wearing the tight-fitting “Event Security” T-shirt instructed me and Greg as we made our way back to our seats following the opening act with our super-sized sodas, enormous pretzels and armloads of just-purchased Debbie Gibson merchandise. “You guys are being watched by every member of our team tonight,” he warned. “One wrong move, and you two clowns are outta here! Get it?” Wow, this guy was serious. The fact was, we wouldn’t have dreamed of being disruptive. But we were perceived as “suspicious,” and it was a distinction for which we’d continue to pay dearly. 

This Electric Youth tour book remains the
crown jewel of my Debbie Gibson collection.
“Why are you here?” the less than friendly mom sitting next to me inquired, just before the night’s headliner took the stage. “Because I love Deb,” I replied gleefully. “Oh really?” she sneered. “And why do you ‘love Deb?’” Gee whiz lady lighten up! “Because she’s a musical genius the ‘John Lennon’ of my generation,” I fired back. That one finally shut her down. Houselights drop it’s show time!

Debbie Gibson never once came directly center stage at any time during the concert that night. I’m not suggesting that she’d been tipped off to our presence, however, I will say that the security guards who were positioned behind the barricade across the front of the stage kept their flashlights shined on me and Greg throughout the entire show. Awkward, to say the least. But that mattered little to us, as Debbie Gibson's high-energy performance and state-of-the-art production made for one of the single greatest and most thrilling concert experiences of my life — second only (maybe) to the first time I saw the New York Dolls.

-Christopher Long
(June 2015)

_________________________

Check out my entire
'80s Concert Flashbacks
series...

Van Halen - 1980
Shalamar - 1981 (Coming Soon)
Cheap Trick - 1982 (Coming Soon)
KISS - 1983
Frehley's Comet - 1987 (Coming Soon)
Debbie Gibson - 1989
__________________________



The latest from author Christopher Long
is available NOW on Amazon.

Also from Christopher Long...
Get it on Amazon.

Currently in development...

Thursday, June 25, 2015

'80s CONCERT FLASHBACKS (Pt. I): Van Halen - 1980

'80s CONCERT
FLASHBACKS
(Pt. I)
Van Halen
1980
__________________________

When it comes to live
concerts, the real story
rarely plays out onstage.
And throughout this six-
part, summer series, I'll
be sharing several of my
most memorable personal
experiences and mishaps.
An excerpt from my 2012
book, C'MON!, this kick-
off story took place way
back in the fall of 1980. 
__________________________

In June 1979, I brokered a backroom-type deal with my mom in order for me to finally attend a KISS concert. I agreed that after seeing KISS, I’d never again ask to go to another rock show. This was an easy sell for my mom, as I would have agreed to hack off my right arm in those days if that’s what it took to see my kabuki-faced heroes live onstage. And I had no regrets regarding our arrangement  until the next summer, when I learned Van Halen's Women and Children First world tour was coming to town.

By 1980, "Junior" wasn't the only
one whose grades were in the toilet!
In the summer of 1980, the ONLY band that could rival KISS in my world was Van Halen  the REAL Van Halen with “Diamond” David Lee Roth leading the charge in all of his shirtless, skin-tight spandex glory! Fortunately, when the Van Halen concert date was announced, enough time had passed since my KISS arrangement that my mom’s memory had become a bit foggy. As a result, she gave into my plea to see Van Halen more easily than I expected.

For reasons that now escape me, the concert originally scheduled for August didn't actually take place until November. I was beside myself with anticipation and nothing was going to deter me from experiencing the (latest) greatest night of my life. Nothing, that is, except for my own teenage stupidity.  

The ORIGINAL Van Halen - LIVE - for... $8.50!
(Ah, the "golden age" of rock and roll.)
Upon entering the famed Lakeland Civic Center that night, I recognized a girl I knew from school, who was sitting near the front of the stage. Jeanie was incredibly attractive and I’d had a crush on her for some time. She was not only beautiful, she was also a cool rocker chick. This rather alluring combination put her completely out of my league, and I knew it. However, that didn’t stop me from at least trying to make a connection. Jeanie seemed to attend every major rock show that came through Central Florida and I hung on her every related recommendation and observation. When Jeanie told me that REO Speedwagon was one of her favorite bands, they instantly had to become one of my favorites as well. When she strongly suggested that I check out The Pat Travers Band, I immediately bought their Heat in the Street album. Suffice it to say, my heart skipped a beat (or two) when I noticed her motioning for me and my buddy Doug to come over and sit with her at the Van Halen concert.

Eager to impress this rock and roll princess with my incredible coolness, I thought nothing of taking several hits off the Rasta-size joint that she passed my way, just minutes prior to the opening act, Talas, taking the stage. “Wow,” she confessed with total surprise, “I had no idea you were so cool!” “Yeah, well there’s a lot you don’t know about me,” I replied cockily  trying desperately to not drool on the end of her marijuana cigarette.

DAVE AND EDDIE
(Circa 1980)
As the house lights went down and the stage lights went up, my mind began to swirl and I suddenly felt an overwhelming sense of dizziness. By the time Talas was into their first chorus, I noticed the thunderous sound of the band becoming a jumbled wall of mush in my head and the bright onstage colors began to merge into one huge, crazy kaleidoscope-like image. Quickly, I lost the power of speech. Then I went blind. Then I went deaf. Then I passed out. Fortunately, Doug caught me before I hit the concrete floor and he literally carried me through the hot, steamy sea of people and up two flights of stairs to the safety of the arena’s concession stand area. As the cold blast of air conditioning hit my face and I took a mighty gulp of the icy soda that Doug had procured for me, I immediately snapped out of my drug-induced stupor. Fortunately, I was able to pull myself together in time for Doug and I to make it back to our seats, just as Van Halen was taking the stage.  

Bassist / vocalist Michael Anthony (L) NEVER
"forgot the f-ing words" and he'll always be the
KEY component of the authentic Van Halen sound.
Van Halen proved to be simply spectacular that night — amps and ramps, lights and tights — a massive mega-watt sight and sound assault. For an impressionable teenager who worshiped the rock idols of the day with unbridled passion, the experience of seeing Eddie Van Halen, shredding in the flesh and “Diamond” Dave, dancin' and prancin' in his prime brought me to the point of a near epileptic seizure. Little did I realize at the time, Dave would always, "forget the f-ing words."

I don’t know of anyone who has ever regretted making smart choices. And on this night, I'd certainly not made a smart choice. Had I blown my sacred Van Halen experience, especially due to my moronic drug use, I would have regretted it for years to come. Yet surprisingly, it took several more drug-related concert mishaps before I finally “got” what should have been a crystal clear message the first time. As a very wise man once stated, “Why do you think they call it ‘dope?'”

-Christopher Long
(June 2015)

_________________________

Check out my entire
'80s Concert Flashbacks
series...

Van Halen - 1980
Shalamar - 1981 (Coming Soon)
Cheap Trick - 1982 (Coming Soon)
KISS - 1983
Frehley's Comet - 1987 (Coming Soon)
Debbie Gibson - 1989
__________________________



The latest from author Christopher Long
is available NOW on Amazon.

Also from Christopher Long...
Get it on Amazon.

Currently in development...

Friday, June 19, 2015

TOP 10 REASONS AL ROKER IS THE MIGHTIEST MAN ON TELEVISION!

TOP 10 REASONS
AL ROKER IS THE
MIGHTIEST MAN
ON TELEVISION!
_________________________

He's undeniably a charismatic
component of our current pop
culture. But is Al Roker really
the "mightiest man" on TV?
_________________________

I'm not a particularly big television fan. In fact, with exception of maybe a couple of clever sitcoms, I typically only tune in news programs — particularly morning news programs. During a recent edition of The Today Show, I caught a shot of an enthusiastic fan standing outside the show's NYC studio, holding a placard that read — "I just traveled 1,400 miles to see Al Roker." Hmm. This got me thinking. After nearly 20 years on TODAY, Al Roker is more than an experienced meteorologist / TV personality / actor / author he is, for many Americans, a family member. Heck, I've personally woken up with Roker more mornings than I did with my ex-wife — and probably under better circumstances. Then it came crashing to me like a bolt of lightening. Hold the phone! Stop the presses! Call StarKist! Given his unmatched professionalism, his unique ability to connect with viewers, his vast world experiences, his engaging personal perspectives and his heartfelt philanthropy — AL ROKER IS THE MIGHTIEST MAN ON TELEVISION!

Here's why...

10
He's a humanitarian
Among other charities, Roker is a longtime
supporter of Ronald McDonald House.

Al Roker at the Iowa Homeless Youth Center.
_________________________

9
He's brave
Risking his own life for the
sake of his loyal audience,
Roker reported LIVE from
inside Hurricane Wilma in 2005.

Roker, risking it all in 2005.
_________________________

8
He's connected
Roker is not only a frequent VIP
at Hollywood's glitziest galas,
he's also friends with the president
AND Kermit. Plus, his cousin is
musician / actor, Lenny Kravitz!

It's not what you know, it's who ya know!
_________________________

7
He's a fashionista
Roker's fabulous fashion sensibility is
second only to (maybe) Adam Lambert.

Go ahead and give yourself TWO
thumbs-up on this one, Al!.
_________________________

6
He's a bona fide superstar
Roker has appeared on episodes of Sesame
Street AND The Simpsons. He also reportedly
holds the record for most appearances

Only the "mightiest" make it on The Simpsons!
_________________________

5
He possesses true
honesty and integrity
I used to work for a famous
rock star who once told me,
"All we have in life is our reputation."
To me, Roker's rep is impeccable.

Al Roker - the most honest man in America?
Probably.
_________________________

4
He's invincible
Like Superman, Al Roker is
seemingly invincible. He's endured
gastric bypass surgery, a knee
replacement and a back operation,
yet nothing can stop him 
except for maybe an expired jar of

AL ROKER:
The modern-day "Man of Steel!"
_________________________

3
He's "man candy!"
Roker is SO hot, he's
almost too steamy for TV.

'Nuff said!
_________________________

2
Chicks dig him
C'mon gals, you all know it's true!

As they say, "two's company."
But for Al Roker, "three's a party!"
_________________________

1
He's a straight shooter
Roker has zero patience or tolerance
for bullies and fools — even when
they're current pop culture darlings.
And he created the single most
compelling moment in American
television history in February 2015,
when he called out rap person
Kanye West for being a disruptive 
punk during Beck's acceptance at
the Grammy Awards ceremony.
Go ahead and "preach it," Al!

"Why take away someone
else's moment? Are you
(Kanye) that egotistical or
that needy that you have
to do something like that?
Respect other people.
Shut up, sit down and stop
it. Just shut up and stop it!"
-Al Roker

Al Roker for President - 2016!
_________________________

In sum, I love me some Al Roker. He IS the mightiest man on television. And in my world, he's an American treasure. Now, here's what's happening in your neck of the woods...

-Christopher Long
(June 2015)



_________________________


The latest from author Christopher Long
is available NOW on Amazon.

Also from Christopher Long...
Get it on Amazon.

Currently in development...