It was an amazing year indeed. I began 2011 wrapping up the promotional phase for my first book. Twelve months later I had completed my second book and I had become immersed in a sea of pre-release activity. But aside from my various writing-related endeavors, I also enjoyed a host of other incredible experiences since the last New Year's celebration...
In February I was approached by a woman at one of my personal appearance events who immediately began "sharing" with me her detailed personal views regarding one of the publications to which I was connected – a magazine that she passionately referred to as "fish wrap." Her name was Michelle and we wound up getting better acquainted during a lengthy 3AM post-event phone conversation. We've been "together" ever since – crazy!
Me and Michelle – Christmas 2011
(Her first words to me were, "Your magazine sucks!")
Last summer, I enjoyed an action-packed pre-senior-year getaway excursion to NYC with my seventeen-year-old son, Jesse. We had a fabulous time taking in the sights, sounds and smells of "The Big Apple" and it proved to be one of our most memorable father and son adventures.
In August, I enrolled at East Coast Christian Center University in Merritt Island, Florida. At age forty-eight, I returned to school for the first time in thirty years. Although my mission will take several years to complete, my goal is to earn a Doctorate in Theology.
Me and Jesse in NYC – 2011
I've been blessed recently to see my blog audience grow to enormous proportions and I want to thank all of my readers, friends and foes for being part of making this such a fantastic year.
Okay, and now for what I (supposedly) do best. Here are a few personal anecdotes, reflecting on the world of entertainment in 2011.
AT THE MOVIES
Given the lack of quality content currently coming out of Hollywood, I find myself going to the movies less frequently these days. And this past summer's bumper crop of such high-profile and over-hyped stinkers as Bad Teacher and The Green Lantern further reinforced my desire to stay at home.
And the winner in the "Worst Movie" category is...
Like many of my fellow conservative, Christian-types, I have no problem accepting and embracing a little adult, movie-related content now and then – especially when there is a payoff. Yes, it's true – Christians not only go to the movies, but we also buy music, watch TV, read books and we sometimes even have sex – GASP! Hence despite the F-bomb showers, graphic scenarios and non-stop glorification of substance abuse, I could still appreciate the entertainment value of The Hangover. The wacky hijinx of four goofball friends during their overnight bachelor party romp in Las Vegas made for a clever, edgy and laugh-out-loud-funny story. And the 2011 sequel to that 2009 blockbuster was one of the most anticipated films of the year.
Serving as nothing more than a predictable and watered-down regurgitation of the original, The Hangover II is simply unwatchable. In fact, as with other such cinematic abominations as Caddyshack II, Arthur II - On the Rocks, Grease II and The Whole Ten Yards, The Hangover II is such a poorly written and ill-conceived farce that it actually compromises the magic of the original film.
Despite their idiosyncrasies, Stu, Phil, Alan and Doug were all lovable characters, the first time around. However, in The Hangover II, not even Bradley Cooper's "OMG" good-looks and chiseled abs can make "Phil" even remotely endearing.
In short, the promotional movie posters should have read: The Hangover II -- In 3-D (A Disastrously Dumb Disappointment)
A rose among thorns...
The 2011 film adaptation of author Kathryn Stockett's 2009 best-selling novel, The Help tells a compelling fictional story, while also presenting a riveting page from a not-so proud chapter in American history. I spent much of my youth growing up in the South during the 1960s and despite some of the criticism leveled at the book version, I found the movie to offer a pretty darn accurate account of what I personally witnessed during the Civil Rights era.
Emma Stone (as aspiring writer Skeeter), Viola Davis (as maid Aibileen Clark), Bryce Dallas Howard (as hometown racist Hilly) and Jessica Chastain (as "trophy wife" employer Celia Foote) all offer award-worthy performances.
In short, I laughed, I cried, and I found The Help to be a rare gem during a year that overdosed on inane box office blunders.
IN MY HI-FI
Over the summer, longtime Florida metal scene veteran Ty Oglesby released his long awaited debut solo record, Demons Within. Despite the rather evil-looking cover as well as the disturbing album and song titles, this raw and traditional-style, seven-song slab-o-metal merely offers an open and honest introspective acount of Oglesby's personal life-struggles. I expect it to particularly blow up in the European market.
Invisible Empires, the latest from singer, songwriter Sara Groves dropped this past fall and along with it came the amazing first single, "Eyes on the Prize." Simply put, in my view, it's without a doubt, THE song of the year.
This acoustic version of Sara Groves' "Eyes on the Prize" is
perhaps even more powerful than the full-band album version.
I also discovered a new musical treasure just a few weeks ago.
Since attending my first concert event in 1977, I've rarely witnessed a support act completely "spank" a headliner. But that's exactly what happened when Nashville's The Wild Feathers opened for pop music icon Paul Simon at the UCF arena in Orlando, Florida.
Combining quality-crafted songs with pure harmonies and an abundance of down home pickin', The Wild Feathers create a kind of true-blue, authentic roots-style music that would make Robbie Robertson and Levon Helm's chests swell with pride – an observation that's even more remarkable considering that no one in the band looks to even be old enough to buy beer.
If J.D. Souther and Bonnie Raitt had made bastard love babies back in '75 and they grew up and formed a band, that band likely would be The Wild Feathers.
To me, Paul Simon got totally "served" by
opening act, The Wild Feathers.
I took in several stellar live concerts this year including performances from Buckcherry, Chicago, Hinder, Paul Simon, Coheed and Cambria, America and New York Dolls.
The April 2011 Orlando, Florida performance
by the legendary rock band Chicago,
was for me, one of the year's best!
by the legendary rock band Chicago,
was for me, one of the year's best!
ON THE NIGHT STAND
I spent considerable time this year catching up on my extracurricular reading. Although it was originally published in 2007, Joseph Prince's Destined to Reign was recently re-released in paperback. Too often, when praising a book, I'll say, "I couldn't put it down." But with its bold, Grace-based message, this is one of only three books I've ever read to which that praise truly applies!
The life-changing read of 2011.
|I will likely marry |
Erin Burnett in 2012.
I rarely watch TV these days. In fact, I don't even have television service in my home. I just no longer have any interest in such mind-numbingly foolish content. However, when I do occasionally glance at the ol' "boob tube" at someone else's home, typically I'm tuned into various news-oriented programs. This past fall, after discovering her CNN news-type program, OutFront, I came to grips with the fact that I'm in love with host Erin Burnett. And last October I publicly confessed my obsession.
2011 was certainly a cool ride and I expect 2012 to be even greater. My second book, C'MON! - My Story of Rock, Ruin and Revelation will be released in January and by next spring I'll be embarking on a national speaking tour, sharing my personal faith-based testimony in churches, book stores and nightclubs across the country. And next summer, my son will graduate with honors from high school as well as receiving an early college AA degree. Now, if the Lord will just "move" Tal & Acacia to tour next year, 2012 will be a complete "slam dunk!"
Thanks, everybody for an amazing 2011.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Author Christopher Long's latest book,
is available NOW on Amazon!