Friday, June 15, 2018

MOVIE REVIEW: Tag

MOVIE REVIEW
Tag
(Running Time 100 Minutes)
__________

It's my annual dilemma 
seeking a summertime big
screen comedy that isn't a
complete steaming pile of
lowbrow refuse. But this
year, I actually found one.
__________

Despite the gratuitous dick jokes, jarring F-bombs and over-the-top drug references, Tag is a fast-paced, laugh-out-loud romp.

In his directorial debut, Jeff Tomsic creates a crisp comedy based on the true story of an eclectic group of five childhood friends who, now in their 40s, continue their lifelong annual tradition of dedicating the month of May to a no-holds-barred game of tag — a silly-sounding premise that in execution delivers with true Hangover-style grandeur.

Oozing irresistible "curb appeal," the attractive cast members all offer incredible performances, most notably, Jeremy RennerIsla Fisher and Leslie Bibb. But while Ed Helms, Jake Johnson and Jon Hamm also boast equally impressive performances, it's often tough to distinguish their Tag characters from their well-known past personas. Hey, how did Don Draper transport from 1965 to 2018?

In sum, if you can choke down a healthy dose of toilet humor, Tag just might scratch your summertime itch. (B+)

-Christopher Long
(June 2018)

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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

BOOK REVIEW: "Love is the Punch Line" - Kathleen Jones

BOOK REVIEW
Love is the Punch Line
- Kathleen Jones -
(Moonshine Cove Publishing)

In the spirit of full disclosure, I must confess that I don't exactly fit the target audience demographic for romantic chick lit. However, my interest was piqued when I first discovered Love is the Punch Line, the debut novel from Canadian author, Kathleen Jones

From the get-go, I found the premise intriguing — an abrasive, insecure aging comedian (Josh Steinberg) connects with an attractive, feisty, middle-aged businesswoman (Holly Brannigan) during one of his stand-up nightclub gigs. Driven by non-stop romantic tension, sparks fly between the "Jewish King of Comedy" and "Holly the Brain" throughout this light, quirky, and unlikely love story.

In sum, Jones writes from the heart, delivering an engaging, entertaining read — a romantic roller-coaster ride from start to finish.

-Christopher Long
(June 2018)

__________

Find
Love is the Punch Line
on Amazon
__________



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Thursday, June 7, 2018

KRISTEN MARTIN: Bestselling Author Comes to Orlando (6.5.18)

KRISTEN MARTIN
Bestselling Author Comes to Orlando
(6.5.18)
__________

These days, I'm seduced much
more by the allure of an up-close-
and-personal author event than by
any groovy backstage rock star
meet-and-greet. But when those
two worlds collide, well, you
definitely can COUNT-ME-IN!
__________

Polished, poised and packaged to perfection, Kristen Martin is a modern-day literary rock star. Her stats — impressive, indeed. A well-established Amazon author, she boasts a bounty of sci-fi bestsellers. Possessing impeccable marketing savvy, she also is a successful writing coach —  providing insightful, spot-on tips and experienced advice to her tens of thousands of loyal YouTube viewers. Simply put, as an established non-fiction author now navigating into the brave new super-competitive world of fiction, when Kristen Martin speaks — I listen.

"Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show 
me the glint of light on broken glass."
-Kristen Martin

In the spirit of full disclosure, I'll confess openly to sitting in front of my laptop frequently for hours on end, binge-watching installment after installment of Martin's fascinating and informative YouTube clips — tasty bag of Doritos by my side and an ice cold can of Red Bull in-hand. And as a result of my unabashed, drooling fanboy obsession, there absolutely was NO way I was going to miss her recent Orlando in-store book signing appearance.

The Kristen Martin collection
available NOW at Amazon.
Possessing a particular (past) penchant for iconic rock stars, I couldn't have been more amped if I was set to meet Gene Simmons himself. However, I (hopefully) managed to project a reasonably calm demeanor. In fact, my knees were knocking only slightly as my buddy Chuck and I entered Gods & Monsters Comic Bookstore.

Although we arrived at the popular Orlando sci-fi shop a full 15 minutes prior to the book signing's scheduled 6pm start time, Martin already was engaged with other enthusiastic readers. And the fact that she was accompanied by acclaimed writing coach, Kaila Walker, only added to the event's WOW-factor.

As a fellow author, I've enjoyed traveling on my own national in-store book signing tours over the years. Hence, I stood by patiently, allowing both Martin and Walker ample time to connect personally with fans before wedging myself into the story.

With Kristen Martin in Orlando, FL.
(6.5.18)
Although recognized primarily for her bestselling sci-fi novels, Martin's current offering is a compelling, self-motivational-style non-fiction book, entitled, Be Your Own #Goals. She knows her audience well and speaks to her readers effectively. But as a doofy dude who typically doesn't connect with sci-fi, I don't exactly fit Martin's demographic. Yet, I was hoping to discover at least a few helpful tidbits in her just-released, chick-focused memoir. "Um, like I, uh, need to buy a copy of Goals, please," I announced, passing a crumpled wad of bills nervously across the signing table. To her credit, Martin didn't laugh at me for my clear-cut lack of slickness. Walker didn't either.

What impressed me most about Kristen Martin was how genuine and approachable she was —  spending as much time as necessary in order to connect fully with each reader who came through the line. I've said it before, but it's worth repeating — you can't fake transparency. And that's one of the special and unique qualities that endears her to so many fans. Heck, both Martin and Walker even took the time to offer me (more than a few) valuable insights when discussing my upcoming project  — which really meant a lot to me. #BRAVO #PROLOGUE 

-Christopher Long
(June 2018)
__________

KRISTEN MARTIN
ONLINE

- Amazon -
- YouTube -
__________


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Tuesday, May 29, 2018

MOVIE REVIEW: Book Club

MOVIE REVIEW
Book Club
June Pictures / Paramount Pictures
103 minutes
__________

Boasting an impressive cast and
promising an engaging story,
Book Club was one of the films
that I had been really looking
forward to seeing this year.
__________

A lighthearted comedy, the debut from director Bill Holderman tells the story of four lifelong girlfriends searching for meaningful and satisfying romantic relationships while navigating through their golden years. Yet, despite the film's playful premise, the all-star cast's curb appeal and the general likability of the characters, Book Club tends to fall a bit flat.

The matinee showing I attended was packed with moviegoers primarily over age 50. And while the audience responded well to many of the film's laugh-out-loud moments, the story often felt painfully predictable. Featuring Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, and Mary Steenburgen, the award-winning ensemble seemed over-qualified for the dumbed-down scenarios and contrived dialog.

Played by Keaton, the character of Diane is only in her late 60s. Hence the concern her daughters project for her well-being is rather over the top. At one point, Bergen's character, Sharon, "connects" with Richard Dreyfuss' character, George. Although they're both amazing, renown actors, the image of them "getting freaky" in the backseat of George's car was less than titillating. Additionally, the sizzle factor between Fonda's character, Vivian, and Don Johnson's character, Arthur, lacked legit "steam." Conversely, the husband and wife dynamic between Craig T. Nelson and Steenburgen was authentic and charming. But in the end, true love prevails, all around — YAY!

In sum, Book Club succeeded in living up to my expectations — sorta. And despite the story's occasional stiffness, it definitely was worth the investment — kinda. (B-)

-Christopher Long
(May 2018)

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Sunday, May 20, 2018

THE TOP 10 ALBUMS I THINK YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO (Guest Feature)

THE TOP 10 ALBUMS
THINK YOU
SHOULD LISTEN TO
by Jesse Tanner Long
(Guest Feature)
__________

Pop culture kingpin, social media
aficionado and ice cream master
chemist Jesse Tanner Long returns
with his latest "Top 10" music list.
___________

I absolutely hate picking favorites. This list was a tough one to compile and I left out a few classics like Butch Walker The Rise and Fall of Butch Walker and the Let's-Go-Out-Tonites, Childish Gambino Camp, Van Halen Fair Warning, 50 Cent Get Rich or Die Tryin’ and The Damned Things Ironiclast.

10
KIMBRA
__________

9
LADY RADIATOR
__________

8
TIDES OF MAN
__________

7
YOU, ME & EVERYONE
WE KNOW
__________

6
CLOSURE IN MOSCOW
__________

5
THE SAFETY FIRE
__________

4
COHEED AND CAMBRIA
__________

3
DANCE GAVIN DANCE
__________

2
DEFTONES
__________

1
PROTEST THE HERO
__________

-Jesse Tanner Long
(May 2018)

_______________________________

BE MY "GUEST!"
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 website 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 
_______________________________


Friday, May 4, 2018

SUPERSTAR: My Fiction Debut NOW is Completed!

SUPERSTAR
My Fiction Debut
NOW is Completed!
__________

A five-year labor of love 
46 chapters, 60,000+ words.
Hooray, my fiction debut NOW
finally has been completed!
__________

God puts specific people in our lives for specific purposes. However, the true value of certain relationships often is recognized most clearly in hindsight. 

I didn't see it coming — that night in college Bible class during the spring of 2013. Tami had been a classmate of mine for some time. Her two teenage daughters participated in my weekly Youth Ministry group. I'd even gone on a recent missions trip to Nicaragua with her and her husband. Given our established relationship, I wasn't offended that night in class when she offered me a personal critique regarding my writing. "I read your latest book," Tami revealed, as she took a seat next to me at our classroom table. "I enjoyed it," she added. "But you're missing your audience." OUCH!

In short order, Tami began offering me some fascinating publishing insights. Although she seemed to "get" my faith-based perspectives, she commented how most people really didn't care about personal-style Christian non-fiction. "The REAL audience," she stated convincingly, "is in Christian fiction."

I responded immediately with a slew of self-defeating excuses — "I can't." "I couldn't." "I don't know how." "I only write non-fiction."

Calling me out in short order, Tami reached into her huge canvas "mom" bag and retrieved an assortment of related resource materials. She then encouraged me further to take my outrageous show biz stories from the past, mix them up with accounts from my recent ministry experiences, change all the names, and "voila," I'd have a gripping fictional story that would have readers at my future book signings lined up out the door. Challenge accepted.

Of course, the task at hand wouldn't be as simple as Tami may have suggested. However, my writing partner, Bryan Dumas, was "on board" with the project instantly  despite our lack of experience in writing fiction. So, we did our homework — diving into volumes of published work that resided outside of our typical comfort zones. 

Our mission seemed simple — to present a bold, yet authentic and potentially life-changing salvation message — one enveloped in an entertaining, realistic story so compelling, it would hook readers at page one, and keep them reeled in through the closing acknowledgments. 


Bryan and I both had spent much of our lives experiencing various aspects of the professional entertainment industry. Conversely, we'd also both moved into the ministry field in recent years. Hence, we had a near unlimited pool of personal stories from which to draw — ones that reflected our real life accounts from standing on both sides of the spiritual fence.

Another challenge we faced was combining the tales of both worlds convincingly and effectively. We recognized that with a story this powerful, we risked alienating non-believers while potentially also disrupting the "apple cart" of the Christian publishing status quo. Challenge accepted — again.

A true labor of love, Bryan and I have poured five years into developing our story and crafting our characters. Along the way, we sought the guidance of many well-established literary insiders and talented creative consultants — both believers and non-believers. And now, "it is finished."

In the fast-paced vein of a Showtime ratings champ, SUPERSTAR presents an incredible message of faith and forgiveness triumphing over fame and fortune as chronicled through the meteoric rise, scandalous fall and spiritual redemption of fictional country music sensation, Trent Davis.

As we now apply a final editing gloss to the manuscript this weekend and prepare to begin the process of pitching our proposal to potential agents and prospective publishers, Bryan and I would like to invite you to check out our SUPERSTAR "Sneak Peek" and offer us your personal comments. You can find our concise preview HERE.

Looking back to 2013, I recognize more clearly than ever the value in my relationship with Tami. Regardless of where this project takes us, Bryan and I will be forever grateful to her for offering us what seemed like an impossible challenge.

-Christopher Long
(May 2018)

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Monday, April 30, 2018

RECORD REVIEW: Fozzy "Judas"

RECORD REVIEW
Fozzy
Judas
(Century Media / Sony)
_________________________

A spill over from late 2017, the
latest slab from FOZZY remains a
personal rock obsession in 2018. 
_________________________

Produced by AOR go-to guru, Johnny Andrews, the seventh studio effort from FOZZY proves that, although certainly flatlining (for years), rock is far from dead. And throughout this super-charged crunch-fest, it becomes clear as crystal that the Atlanta-birthed brigade possesses exactly what most of their contemporaries lack. And that's songs  fist-pounding, blood-pumping, rib-cracking, arena-sized sing-alongs.

Leading off with the record's guitar-driven, nut-busting first three singles, "Judas," "Drinkin' with Jesus" and "Painless," Judas is an impressive 11-track tour de force — one brimming with such additional highlights as the infectious, techno-tinged "Weight of My World" and "Burn Me Out."

FOZZY
Despite oozing overall authenticity, the record's rock / metal cred can be compromised occasionally by modern-day, pop-flavored wizardry. Residing stylistically somewhere between Linkin Park and Lady Gaga, "Three Days in Jail" represents one of the less compelling "square peg" moments while the seemingly "Dope Show"-inspired "Elevator" and equally appealing "Running with the Bulls" each survive the production shellacking more successfully.

In sum, Judas is a glorious treasure — a collection so powerful, you just might feel led to call your mom and thank her for forgetting to take her pill that one night in Louisville.

-Christopher Long
(April 2018)

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Monday, April 9, 2018

"NOTHIN' BUT A GHOUL TIME!" — Spooky Empire Horror Convention (April 6-8, 2018 / Orlando, FL)

NOTHIN' BUT A GHOUL TIME!
Spooky Empire
Horror Convention
(April 6-8, 2018 / Orlando, FL)
_________________________

After hearing all sorts of
hoo-ha for the last few
years, I felt compelled
to venture out this past
weekend and finally
experience the famed
horror event for myself.
_________________________

Growing up in the Midwest during the '70s, I was riveted by late night horror movies. I possessed a particular passion for black and white classics starring such iconic actors as Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney Jr. My poor, sweet mother absolutely was riddled with concern over my unbridled pre-pube obsession with the afternoon T.V. show, Dark Shadows. And I won't even get into how much Count Chocula and Franken Berry I consumed back in those days. As a teenage rock music freak, I was mesmerized further by the likes of KISS and Alice Cooper. As a result of my insatiable adolescent ghoulish appetite, the Spooky Empire horror convention had been on my radar for quite a while.

Spooky Empire 2018 offered fans
a menagerie ghoulish goodies. 
A gloriously haunting celebration of all things frightening and creepy, the Central Florida-based event is billed as "The Dark Side of Comic Con." Produced biannually by the husband and wife team of Petey and Gina Mongelli, the spring 2018 edition of Spooky Empire played out at the fabulous Wyndham Orlando Resort on April 6-8. Over the course of three action-packed days and fun-filled nights, the all-ages extravaganza oozed WOW-factor — from an array of one-on-one celebrity meet-and-greet and Q&A sessions to near-endless groovy vendor booths to seemingly countless skilled master artists demonstrating their craft in the enormous tattoo area to the sea of amazing-looking, costumed characters roaming about the venue.

All dressed in the iconic circa 1983 garb of former
KISS guitarist, Vinnie Vincent, these kabuki-faced
characters were my personal Spooky Empire faves.
Based on our numerous chaotic personal past experiences with various other similar-type events over the years, my girlfriend, Diana, and I expected Spooky Empire to present us with yet another frustrating "cluster"-style scenario. We were wrong. In fact, the first thing we noticed upon entering the Wyndham Resort was how well-organized Spooky Empire was. Which says a lot, given what an unbelievably sprawling production it was. We also were impressed equally by the event and venue staff — professional and friendly, to be sure.

A SPOOKY HIGHLIGHT
What's cooler than getting photo bombed

by the guys from Animal House?
As a talented artist and acknowledged superhero / comic book aficionado, Diana was fascinated by the incredible related artwork displayed throughout the event. As an admitted, drooling rock music fanboy, I was most thrilled about meeting the hosts of the wildly popular Three Sides of the Coin  KISS podcast, as well as attending the Q&A session featuring former KISS guitarist, Vinnie Vincent. In short, Diana and I both went home more than satisfied.

Three Sides of the Coin co-hosts Michael Brandvold,
Tommy Sommers and Mark Cicchini did a fantastic
job leading the spirited Vinnie Vincent Q&A session.
TRUE CONFESSION
I actually wet myself at Spooky Empire when
meeting my superhero - Three Sides of the Coin
co-host, Michael Brandvold. TMI?
In a day when so many events promise so much and deliver so little, Spooky Empire succeeded in delivering "more bang for the buck." And I look forward to attending the 2018 Halloween edition of the convention at the Caribe Royale Orlando on October 26-28.

-Christopher Long
(April 2018)


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