Tuesday, November 29, 2011

THRIFT STORE ADVENTURES (Pt. IV) - Pink Tuesday Edition

THRIFT STORE
ADVENTURES
(PT. IV)
Pink Tuesday Edition
 _________________________

My girlfriend and 
I kicked off my
newly proclaimed 
PINK TUESDAY 
holiday shopping
tradition today in
grand fashion.
_________________________

Our initial expectation this morning merely was to spend the day converging on our favorite tried and true thrift store destinations, taking advantage of their holiday bargains and whittling down our shopping lists. And boy, did we. But along the way, as Michelle and I traveled from store to store, from the northern part of Brevard county to the south, we made an epic thrifting discovery.

Michelle had overheard someone mention something last weekend about a new thrift store located on Wickham Road in Melbourne, across from Home Depot. Although we were uncertain of our specific destination, we seemingly were led by  the supernatural power of thrift store fairies as I blindly pulled into a random complex. "There it is!" Michelle exclaimed. "I see the word 'thrift' on that sign." Filled with anticipation, I located a parking spot. I then removed the Neil Diamond Christmas cassette from the tape deck, shut off the engine and we eagerly searched for the shop. Finally, tucked in the back among various offices, we spotted a mannequin laying on a lounge chair holding a sign that read, "OMG: Old Made Good / Thrift-Vintage." We had arrived!


Upon entering the newly found  hallowed halls, we were greeted by an angelic young woman named Kelly who gleefully gave us a complete tour. In full disclosure, I don't know for certain that she was an angel, but I definitely noticed a halo. (I think)

With its multiple rooms, specific sections and eye-catching displays, OMG more closely resembles a supercenter than a typical thrift store.

Simply put, OMG's toy / game room is awesome!
They even have a separate kitchen section.
(According to Michelle, this
was particularly impressive.) 
No, this isn't a trophy room-type tribute
to my ex-girlfriends. It's actually just part
of OMG's ginormous Barbie collection.
Michelle got a kick out of the sign
above OMG's ladies shoe section.
I've never been a Trekkie. Lost
in Space was always my thing.
(Penny was a total hottie!)
But even I could recognize that these
Star Trek figures were pretty darn cool.
And how about this kids' room?
The floor of the toy / game room is
tiled with vintage game boards!
To keep in line with the PINK TUESDAY
theme, OMG also has enough fabulous pink
stuff to choke a very fashion-conscious horse...

Their business phone is even pink!
(It's called a land line and
yes, it does work.)
Michelle spotted Kelly's hot pink
Sharpie lying on the front counter.
(I sure hope she won't miss it!)
In short, OMG! — we love OMG!

After a brief intermission, it
was time to get back to work.
What thrifting experience would be complete without taking a much-needed break for a delicious lunch? And as usual, Michelle and I stopped for a bite at one of our favorite restaurants, Skewers, located in Indialantic, Florida. Simply put, the service at Skewers is impeccable and the food is superb!

I mentioned in a post last week that when thrifting, you typically can expect to find countless copies of Forrest Gump on VHS tape, usually for a quarter a piece. Well, guess what?

When I'm right...
Boy, do I nail it on the head!
BUT WAIT. THERE'S MORE!

Okay, I probably didn't really need two
(more) copies of Debbie Gibson's
Out of the Blue, but she's the quintessential
musical genius of the last quarter century.
Plus, my girlfriend is a total enabler!
I loved this little holiday display
we found at Angels in the Attic
located in Melbourne, Florida.
So there you have it. The first annual PINK TUESDAY celebration was a smashing success. I bought tons of cool stuff, I saved a ton of money and nobody got pepper sprayed. And I can hardly wait to do it all again next year.

Happy Holidays, everybody. Aww, c'mon. Enough with this PC nonsense...

M E R R Y   C H R I S T M A S !

-Christopher Long
(November 2011)

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is available NOW on Amazon.

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Monday, November 28, 2011

ATTENTION FELLOW CONSERVATIVES: Mean People Suck!

ATTENTION FELLOW
CONSERVATIVES:
Mean People Suck!
__________________________

I can remember being
mentored years ago by a
much older and experienced
drummer during my newbie
rock and roll days. I was 16
and he was 17 — and
when you're 16, one year is
a huge gap. Now, when I say
I was being, "mentored," I
actually mean we likely were
doing bong hits. (Hey, it was
1979, okay?) Anyway, my
buddy offered me some
profound words of wisdom
that I've never forgotten.
I still apply his words to
various aspects of my
Christian ministry, parenting
and political pontificating.
__________________________ 

"You don't beat the sound through the drum," he stated with Schlitz on his breath and a glaze in his eyes. "You pull the sound out of the drum." Sheer brilliance!

Conservatives, pay attention. We've got an indescribably important election coming up next year. It's perhaps the most important election of my lifetime. But tragically, many "red state-types" are so consumed by hateful name-calling and regurgitating mean-spirited rhetoric that our conservative message too often falls on deaf ears. And BTW, you Libs are just as guilty.

I recently was listening to a radio call-in talk show on which the host referred to the "Occupy Wall-street" protesters as "occu-tards." Okay, I'll admit it, that one did make me snicker for a second. But in reality, aside from ramping up his more extreme listeners for 2.4 seconds, the only thing that this host truly accomplished by making the crass comment was making himself seem small-minded.

Speaking of radio hosts, one of the most recognized names in conservative radio has cemented his reputation by consistently bombarding his listeners, callers and guests with lowbrow name-calling such as "creep," "jerk," "moron" and "idiot." In fact, this host and best-selling author now goes so overboard so often with his signature nastiness that I can no longer stomach tuning in to his nightly program. I'm sure that this type of entertainment appeals to many and I certainly can appreciate shock value, but as a hardcore right-winger, if I'm turned off by this type of dialog, I can only imagine how the other side perceives it.

Simply put, I'm in love with Ann Coulter. She's intelligent, funny and clearly, she's the most beautiful and alluring woman ever to draw a breath. She's right about everything and her unshakable confidence is a real turn-on. Yet despite my willingness to stick my arm gleefully in a wood chipper in exchange for the opportunity to become her personal "house boy," even I had a hard time choking down the non-stop bitch-factor of her 2005 best-seller, How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must).

Ann Coulter
(Our children will be beautiful!)
If you're selling vacuum cleaners from door to door and your pitch opener is along the lines of, "Good afternoon, ma'am. You better buy one of my vacuums 'cuz your house is a pigsty and you're a sucky housekeeper," chances are, you'll be experiencing a door slam, real quick — before you even get a chance to demonstrate the product.

I understand that most leftists never will listen to our side, regardless of how sensible our views are. Just as economically challenged folks never will buy that $3,000 vacuum even if it can suck the chrome off a trailer hitch. But there are many folks out there who are in the middle when it comes to many political issues. If we merely are perceived as hateful, nasty, intolerant, gun-toting, building-bombing dolts who all can "see Russia from our houses," then we're going to miss out on connecting with a large faction of the electorate. And these voters will make the difference at the polls, come next November.

Be sure that as a conservative, I'm in no way suggesting that we go "soft" on the content of our message. But if the motive is to connect with the "lost" and regain the White House in 2012, I suggest that we make a better effort to "pull the sound out of the drum" as opposed to "beating the sound through the drum."

-Christopher Long
November 2011


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Friday, November 25, 2011

HERE COMES THE BRIDE: (Pt. II)

HERE COMES
THE BRIDE
(Pt. II)
___________________________

With years of hands-
on experience, the
bridal biz is near
the top of the short
list of subjects in
which I possess 
true expertise. And
in this second part 
of my series, I will
further address
various aspects of
this fabled industry. 
___________________________

EXPECTATIONS
Contrary to what some TV talking heads, related magazines and industry know-it-alls might tell you, your "perfect day" probably will be less than perfect. Ladies, the truth is, that bird will crap on your head just as quickly and rain will pour just as likely on your day as on any other. The sooner you can accept this fact, the sooner you can move forward with realistic expectations. If you "pull the lever" and all of your "fruits" do line up — congratulations, you beat the odds. However, if you do experience a "bump" or two, don't freak out. It's perfectly normal. But, by making logical decisions and working with qualified, experienced, trustworthy individuals, you can help minimize your potential anxieties. And FYI, in hindsight, those same "bumps" can end up creating a unique and memorable wedding day.

FEELING LUCKY?
Ahh, a breathtaking Tennessee mountain view, a beautiful Florida beach sunset and a bountiful floral garden. Wow, these sound like perfect settings for an outdoor wedding, right? Yes, of course — that is, if your "fruits" line up. And I've been involved with countless successful outdoor affairs over the years. However, I've also witnessed more than a few heartbreakers. If the weather cooperates, you win, and win big. If not, the biggest day of your life could end in disaster. The question is, do you feel lucky? Based on my personal experiences, the three most important words of advice that I can offer a bride are: INDOORS, INDOORS, INDOORS!

Be sure that rain is not the only factor to consider when planning an outdoor wedding and or reception. In Florida we endure summer-like temperatures nine to ten months out of the year. So even if there's not a cloud in the sky, brides also should consider how they'll deal with the hot sun melting their makeup and their expensive, fancy hairdos. And what time will your event be taking place? Where will the sun be in the sky at that time of day, during that time of year? Think about your photos and whether or not your bridal party will be squinting awkwardly from the blinding sun shooting into their eyes.

But Chris, my party is being held under a tent. It will be fine!

Really? Well, not even a tent completely will protect your celebration from a healthy downpour. (Trust me on this one.) Plus, you still have to consider sweat and humidity factors. Frequently, flying bugs such as mosquitoes can become a huge problem as well. Oh yeah, don't forget about the wind. I remember a bride being hit in the face by a huge piece of flying, sauce-covered aluminum foil that blew off the buffet line and through the air as she walked down the aisle of her makeshift outdoor chapel/reception hall. Imagine just how awesome those photos will look with everyone's hair blowing in all directions and women fighting to control their flowing dresses. It's also important to consider your guests. Yes gals, your guests do matter! And simply put, unless all conditions are absolutely perfect, outdoor affairs can be just plain uncomfortable for everyone.

Lisa and Larry had the best of both worlds.
Their 2005 reception was held at a beautiful
riverside venue. They enjoyed the benefit of
a fantastic outdoor setting for photos, but
the actual reception was held indoors.
The smart play, as many of my clients have opted to make over the years, is to plan an outdoor ceremony, but have a viable indoor back-up plan.

Hang on, Chris. What's a "viable back-up plan?"

I'm glad that you asked. Many of the ceremonies in which I'm involved are held at swanky beachside Florida hotels. The archway and chairs all typically are set up on a lovely pool deck area. But if the weather becomes less than cooperative, guests quickly can be ushered to an alternative area inside the hotel at the last minute.

Despite the expectations of first-time brides, most ceremonies are over quicker than expected, so if you're absolutely set on outdoor nuptials, you won't have to "dodge the bullet" for long. But I strongly suggest that the typical three to four-hour, post-ceremony reception should commence at a proper indoor venue. I'll likely address this issue further in future posts.

To be continued...

-Christopher Long
(November 2011)

DROP ME A LINE
I'm very accessible and I'm happy to assist folks at any time regarding wedding-related questions, concerns and comments. I can be contacted through either the "Comment" forum of this blog or directly via my personal email address:
AuthorChristopherLong@yahoo.com

_________________________

ADDITIONAL
HERE COMES THE BRIDE
INSTALLMENTS:

Pt. I   Pt. II   Pt. III   Pt. IV
Pt. V   Pt. VI   Pt. VII   Pt. VIII
_________________________


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

Also from Christopher Long...
Available on Amazon.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

"ICE!" - Gaylord Palms Resort / Orlando, FL (2011)

ICE!
Gaylord Palms Resort
Orlando, FL
_______________ 

A couple of weeks ago, my girlfriend asked me if I'd like to accompany her and her two young daughters to the upcoming annual ICE! production in Orlando. Okay, to be honest, she really didn't invite me. In her "unique" way, I was informed that I was going. I learned very early on in our relationship that it is usually in my best interest to respond to "invitations" with an immediate and at least semi-heartfelt, "Yes, dear." Well, today was the day of the show.

I never before had been to The Gaylord Palms ResortI soon discovered that it's quite a swanky joint and that it is the size of about 37 (large) shopping malls. But the staff was extremely friendly and quite helpful. As a result, upon our arrival, we easily found our way to the event and in a timely fashion.

NO, THIS ISN'T MR. BILL.
His name is Gingy and he is
somehow connected to the Shrek
story. As for his "friend," I believe
her name is Cookie. I understand
that they met recently via the
"Sweet-n-Single" Internet dating
service. (But I could be wrong.)

Simply put, the ICE! exhibit is akin to a wax museum, except the sculptures (this year) are based on the Shrek the Halls story and they are all carved out of ice — lots and lots of ice! And in order to maintain the sculptures' icy perfection throughout the event's six-week run, the temperature of the viewing area is kept at a "balmy" 9°. Hence, complimentary parkas are loaned out to attendees.

This one gives a whole new meaning
to the term, "Pigs in a Blanket!"
This breathtakingly magnificent Nativity
scene also was carved completely out of ice!

In short, it was an awesome show and all three of us kids had a fantastic time!

-Christopher Long
(November 2011)



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is available NOW on Amazon.

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Monday, November 21, 2011

HERE COMES THE BRIDE: (Pt. I)

HERE COMES
THE BRIDE
(Pt. I)
___________________________

In addition to my writing projects,
political interests, rock and roll
exploits and faith-based pursuits,
I'm also a wedding specialist.
(No, really.) From DJ-ing to
planning, I've been involved in
nearly 1,000 weddings since '84.
From the intimate backyard
reception with 13 guests that I
DJ'd in the mid-'80s to the full-
blown mega gala that I attended
at Donald Trump's in the late
'90s to my typical events in the
2000s, I've just about seen it
all over the last 27 years — the
fun, the festivities, and more
than a few (avoidable) real-life
nightmares and mishaps.
______________________________

The song ain't called "Here Comes the Bride" for nothing. Let's face it, when it comes to weddings, it's all about the ladies. Sorry guys. But as the groom, you do have an important role, sorta. And if you play your cards right, you just might get an invitation! Hence, I primarily will be addressing brides.

Gals who clearly have been influenced by episodes of Bridezilla, Oprah-type talking heads and related books and magazines often have unrealistic expectations regarding their "big day." Based on my personal experiences, I have found few professionals within the bridal industry who have the chutzpah to level with their clients and provide them with accurate advice and sound guidance. However, I do. And throughout this continuing series, I will dispel numerous wedding myths and offer valuable insight while recounting a myriad of amazing, sometimes frightening and often hilarious stories. And through sharing these stories, I hope to assist brides-to-be in orchestrating truly memorable ceremonies and receptions — memorable in a good way.

LET THEM EAT CAKE
I'm often perplexed by brides who spend fortunes on shoes that remain hidden under their flowing gowns and assorted disposable monogrammed do-dads, yet cut corners on such essentials as the DJ, the venue and sometimes, even the crowning jewel of any wedding reception — the cake...

The year was 1997 and the  "Smith" reception was to begin at 5pm. As usual, I arrived to load-in and set up my DJ gear two hours early. By 4pm I noticed that the cake table was empty. No big deal, bakers often bring in the cake close to the reception start time. But at 5pm there still was no cake. And by 5:15 I wasn't the only one  becoming concerned as guests began arriving while the cake table remained barren.

Just before 5:30, a frumpy-looking gentleman, carrying a rather large cardboard box, frantically came crashing through the doorway of the reception hall. "The cake! Something happened to the cake!" he exclaimed, desperately looking for someone in charge. We'll call the frumpy guy, "Uncle Joe."

This isn't the infamous cake.
In an attempt to minimize her escalating reception-related expenses, the bride this day had opted for a family member, "Aunt Sue," to provide a homemade wedding cake. This happens frequently in the bridal biz and typically, it meets with fantastic results. However, with all of the ensuing hub-bub this day, Aunt Sue instructed Uncle Joe to deliver the cake for her. Unfortunately, Uncle Joe stopped off for a "cold one" at a local pub along the way.

It was still early spring, but in Florida, outdoor afternoon temperatures in March often can exceed eighty degrees. However, the temperature inside of a locked car with the windows rolled up under these same circumstances is considerably hotter.

"I was only in the bar for a few minutes," Uncle Joe nervously muttered as he placed the box on the cake table.

"Oh my God!" the banquet manager exclaimed as she peeked inside the box to examine the contents.

It was a wedding day nightmare come true. After thirty minutes sitting inside of a roasting car, the once beautiful, three-tier cake now had become a melted trainwreck.

Several ladies who had arrived early and had been alerted of the disaster quickly darted off to the venue's kitchen with the boxful of "remains." Calls immediately were placed to reputable local bakeries in hopes that someone could rush over and help salvage the situation. But it now was close to 6PM on a Saturday and the one bakery that was still open was tied up, servicing their own customer's event.

Before long, the ladies had reconstructed the cake (sorta) — propping it up and holding it together with cleverly hidden toothpicks. Whoo — that was a close one! All was now well — sorta.

The 2008 Sands reception
was a total blast. And their
cake was fabulous!

The bride and groom were both unaware of the narrowly dodged bullet and when it came time to cut the cake, the newlyweds gleefully stuck in the knife and then watched in horror as the red, jelly-filled layers crumbled into pieces, fell off the table and dribbled down the bride's pristine, flowing white gown.

Be sure that I'm not recounting this story to make light of the couple's experience. I frequently will remind readers throughout this series about the importance of making smart choices — hiring professionals and entrusting essential details to responsible parties. Poor Uncle Joe exemplified neither of these attributes. Sadly, this was a wedding disaster that was completely avoidable.

To be continued...

-Christopher Long
(November 2011)

DROP ME A LINE
I'm very accessible and I'm happy to assist folks at any time regarding wedding-related questions, concerns and comments. I can be contacted through either the "Comment" forum of this blog or directly via my personal email address.

_________________________

 ADDITIONAL
HERE COMES THE BRIDE
INSTALLMENTS:

_________________________


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

Also from Christopher Long...
Available on Amazon.

Friday, November 18, 2011

THRIFT STORE ADVENTURES (Pt. III) - Holiday Edition

THRIFT STORE
ADVENTURES
(Pt. III)
The Holiday Edition
________________________

It's that time of year
once again. And nothing
gets me in the holiday
spirit quicker than a
"Thrift Store Adventure!"
________________________

 Michelle and I got a bit of a 
jump today on the holiday
thrifting season. As grizzled
veterans of the thrift store
scene, we realized that we
needed to call out for additional
backup on today's excursion.
Consequently, our friend Bambi
(yes, that is her real name) came
along to offer us much-needed
support and encouragement.

Although it's hard to see in this
pic, the "Hanukkah Harry" bear
comes with his own yarmulke!
Apparently, Santa is
quite the fisherman.
Who knew?
I'm hoping that Santa will stash
a winning season inside of my
new Dallas Cowboys stocking.
My newest favorite T-shirt!
Bambi's new shirt is,
in a word, appropriate.
There's no place like home.
There's no place like home.
There's no place like home.
(FRONT)
The spiritual message for the day...

(BACK)
In short, today's outing was incredible.
And not even the pungent fragrance of
fresh poop permeating from the gentleman
standing next to me in the check-out line
could tarnish the experience that Michelle
refers to as "our ultimate score!"

And our well-deserved, post-
shopping lunch at Skewers in
Indialantic was SCRUMPTIOUS!
Good times, to be sure!

-Christopher Long
(November 2011)


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

Also from Christopher Long...
Available on Amazon.