Saturday, June 15, 2019

FLORIDA SUMMER AUTHOR EXPO: Meet the authors. Hear their stories. (Siggy's / Palm Bay, FL / 6.22.19)

Meet the authors. Hear their stories.
(Siggy's / Palm Bay, FL / 6.22.19)

My friends at Siggy's in
Palm Bay, Florida are
throwing a book bash.
And we're ALL invited!

It's the aspect of book promotions that I enjoy most — meeting and greeting folks, one on one. But I'm looking forward to this particular author event for several reasons. For starters, it's a hometown appearance, being held just outside Siggy's, the popular nightclub where I've been the resident DJ for the last 22 years. I'm also psyched to be working with a cast of colleagues who I've admired for quite some time.

I've been a fan of children's author
Violet Favero for several years. 
Space Coast children's author, Violet Favero, first popped onto my personal radar when she launched her popular Silly Yaya series back in 2015. Since then, Violet has released a slew of super-fun kids' books, including her latest, Gracie's RV Mis-Adventures.

The author of an array of adult fiction titles, Joanne Fisher, has been a part of the Florida writers' scene for ages now. Her most current book, Baker's Dozen Anthology, is an engaging collection of short stories — including the confessions of a clever canine and revelations of romance.

With Joanne Fisher at one of her
recent Florida author events.
I've never met Lake Wales author, Shellie Blum, personally. However, through the pages of her heart-stopping memoir, Waterski Girl Wonder, I feel as if we're lifelong friends. For those who dig a gripping personal tale of triumph over tragedy, Shellie's book is a must-read.

As for me, I'll be hocking copies of my explosive new country music-themed faith novel, Superstar. I'll also be giving away free digital CD copies of my two Christian Living titles, C'MON! and Shout it Out Loud. Hugs, handshakes and high-fives also will be free.

Celebrated author, Shellie Blum, will be making
her first-ever Palm Bay book signing appearance.
Although Siggy's is hosting the Author Expo, the event actually is happening outdoors, under the shade, in front of the club. Hence, this is TOTALLY a family-friendly celebration. There will be fun music to fuel the party and onsite concessions (including a kid's beverage bar) will available — a particular plus on a hot summer day. And the event is FREE! So, make an afternoon of it — grab the fam and come on out. Meet the authors. Ask the questions. Hear their stories. Score their books. (1pm-4pm)


-Christopher Long
(June 2019)



C'MON! -

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

TV REVIEW: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon Original)

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
(Amazon Original)

For a guy who grew up
with only three television
networks during the '60s
and '70s, having such an
array of programming
options these days can
be so overwhelming that
it's understandably easy to
miss a gem now and then.
Better late than never.

Entertainment personality, Joe Rogan, interviewed David Lee Roth on a recent episode of his wildly popular podcast. During the three-hour conversation, the iconic Van Halen frontman asked Rogan, "What are you watching on TV? What are you watching regularly?" Without missing a beat Rogan replied,"Lately, I'm watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. It's an Amazon Original about a woman stand-up comedian from the 1950s who hangs out with Lenny Bruce." Roth and I both were intrigued instantly. Rogan then added, "It's really good. It's a really good show." At that point, I hollered to my GF from my home office into the kitchen. "Hey, Sweetie! Do we have Amazon Prime? I just got an amazing tip from Joe Rogan." Simply put, I was not disappointed.

Much thanks to Joe Rogan for the
"marvelous" gift of Mrs. Maisel.
Whether I'm revealing my personal enthusiasm regarding TV shows, movies or books, I don't "do" spoilers. If Rogan's aforementioned concise commentary doesn't hook ya sufficiently, elaborating further will only compromise the experience once you arrive at the big dance — or in this case, the big bat mitzvah.

Created by Amy Sherman-Palladino, Mrs. Maisel is uniquely hilarious — smart and well-written with an impeccable cast. Playing out in New York City during the late 1950s, the show pops with the same vibrant authenticity as one of my other favorite recent period productions, the award-winning AMC series, Mad Men.

Rachel Brosnahan is intoxicating as Midge Maisel.
Mrs. Maisel first premiered on Amazon as a single pilot episode in the spring of 2017. Positive viewer reaction was so massive, two full seasons soon were ordered. The first season was released in November 2017 and the second arrived in December 2018. Mrs. Maisel has been renewed for a third season, dropping in late 2019.

I first fell in love with Rachel Brosnahan a few years ago through her recurring role as prostitute, Rachel Posner, in the acclaimed Netflix series, House of Cards. Now starring in a lead role, the 28-year-old award-winning actress absolutely owns the character of  Miriam "Midge" Maisel  an aspiring female Jewish stand-up comic, working the cutthroat NYC nightclub scene in 1958. Particularly impressive for a Gentile from Milwaukee.

Marin Hinkle and Tony Shalhoub are
superb as Midge's parents, Rose and Abe.
What makes Mrs. Maisel so irresistible is that it isn't really about the crazed world of stand-up comedy or the glamour of a bygone era. It's about the story — a story about people — "colorful" people and their often volatile relationships with other "colorful" people. The tension between Midge and the members of her family is palpable  her socialite mother, Rose, played beautifully by Marin Hinkle and her mathematics genius father, Abe, played brilliantly by Tony Shalhoub.

The honest and pure chemistry between Midge and her noticeably "butch" sidekick / manager, Susie, played by Alex Borstein makes for a compelling new "Dynamic Duo." And while Midge's estranged husband, Joel, played by Michael Zegen is something of a slimeball, you just might feel for the guy, occasionally. Maybe. Finally, not only is it incredibly clever how Lenny Bruce is woven into this fictional narrative, Luke Kirby's portrayal of the late stand-up legend is chillingly spot-on. Bravo!

In sum, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel — come for the comedy. Stay for the story.

-Christopher Long
(June 2019)



C'MON! -

Sunday, June 9, 2019


(2019 Edition)

What's better than reconnecting
with old friends, or making new
ones over a steamy cup-o-Joe?

Back in 2013, I posted a web feature entitled, The Top 10 People I Want to Have Coffee With. The piece was inspired by my myriad morning chats with the locals at my neighborhood Starbucks and my desire to pursue conversations with prominent peeps on a national and international level. Six years later, I've become considerably more experienced, and more comfortable with conducting proper coffee-fueled interviews with an array of musicians, singers, dancers, authors, politicians and TV personalities, as well as "average Joes" on the street. As a result, now seems like a good time to update the ol' "Coffee list."


As long as we don't have to discuss his band,
I'd totally dig dishing with "The Starchild."

Aw, ay! Looks like we're gonna have
ourselves a coffeetime pawty tonight!


One of my fave authors, Larry Ollison
knows about cool cars, classic rock and
dirty socks. He also knows the Word
of God extremely well. I've read nearly
all of Larry's books. As a result, I kinda
feel like we're pals already. A personal
coffee chat would likely be a big time.


How crazy is she really?
I gotta find out!

Hey, want a scone with your
Caramel Brulée, sweetheart?


I have such a heart for the Jewish people
— God's chosen people. I further believe
it is absolutely imperative that the U.S.
stands firm with Israel. An opportunity to
have a personal, face-to-face conversation
with Israel's Prime Minister would be an
amazing and humbling honor.


If you were in a bar, playing Seven-Card
with Dana Loesch and Nancy Pelosi,
and shit started going sideways, who
would have your back and who would
be cowering under the Jäger machine?
Right! But just to be safe, I think it's
best if Dana and I meet at a coffee shop.


Carly is one of my all-time favorite
singer / songwriters. I just hope we
can get together before we're both
too old to slurp. Oh, the anticipation.


A supremely talented artist on many levels,
Bromstad first popped onto my radar when
my GF and I discovered his hit TV series,
Color Splash. Given how we're both based
currently on Florida's east coast, a coffee
connection could be in the cards. C'mon,
it's not really that much of a stretch. Is it?


Although I've admired Applegate's work
since way back before her heart-stopping
1990 music video cameo, I'd particularly
like to get the insider deets on her latest
project — the Netflix series, Dead to Me.
I'd also like to have coffee with her 'cuz
she's Christina FREAKING Applegate!

Aw, dammit! 


Futuristic fashion designer, Miranda Plastic,
is the keyboardist and co-lead vocalist for
the Chicago-based electro pop / rock combo,
The Fantastic Plastics. She's also one of
the most exciting live performers on today's
international music scene. See for yourself.
What would we discuss during our coffee
chat? Bowie and cotton candy. Duh!

So, who are the amazing people YOU would want to have coffee with? It could be anybody, from the Queen of England to the kid who bags your groceries. If you can possibly manage the time, please feel free to share your personal thoughts in the "Comment" section below. Thanks for stopping by!

-Christopher Long
(June 2019)



C'MON! -

Saturday, June 1, 2019

MOVIE REVIEW: Rocketman (2019)

2019 / (R) / 121 minutes
New Republic Pictures
(U.S. Opening May 31, 2019)

Of all the music-related
bio pics hitting both the big
and small screen these days,
this is the flick I've been
looking forward to most.

The problem with the 2017 blockbuster, The Greatest Showman, was that it didn't know what it wanted to be. It kinda wanted to be an authentic bio pic based on the life and career of celebrated showman P.T. Barnum. But it also wanted to be a modern, pop fueled, Glee-style musical that somehow plays out in the 1800s. Be sure, I enjoy a lighthearted teen-targeted musical production just as much as the next aging hillbilly. And I definitely love me a historically accurate bio pic. But by playing it from both sides of the fence, TGS failed to deliver either effectively. As a result, the integrity of the story was compromised — despite generating 7 billion in box office receipts. Directed by Dexter FletcherRocketman doesn't know what it wants to be either.

Simply put, Elton John is arguably the most successful and influential music artist since the lads from Liverpool made their big splash in the early 1960s. As a lifelong super-fan of John and the iconic music he created with songwriting partner, Bernie Taupin, what I was craving was a riveting, in depth, accurate bio pic revealing brutally honest insights into the lives and careers of both men — the songs they wrote, the albums they created and the legendary band members who brought the music to life. What I got often looked more like the latest installment in the popular High School Musical film franchise.

Taron Egerton delivers an award-worthy performance in Rocketman.
Like I said, there's certainly nothing wrong with shamelessly spirited musicals. But when John (still going by his real name Reginald Dwight), performs as a young lad in a local British pub in the early 1960s, long before ever even meeting Taupin and he bursts into a signature John / Taupin standard from 1973 for the sake of a campy ensemble song and dance scene, well, it squelched the film's authenticity factor, PDQ.

However, when focused on the story, Rocketman delivers in spades. The splintered relationships between John and his parents is heartbreaking. The tension between John and former manager and lover, John Reid is riveting. And John's deeply personal and painful struggle to navigate through the world of superstar excess is fantastic, indeed.

A logical question might be; How can you have an authentic Elton John bio pic with NO mention of Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy? Well, in Rocketman, there is no specific mention of any of John's iconic, chart-busting albums. There's no mention of his much-loved band members  — no Davey, no Nigel, no Dee, no Ray — not even as much as an "attaboy" for longtime producer, the late Gus Dudgeon. Did Elton John ever collaborate famously with his hero, John Lennon? You wouldn't know it from Rocketman.

Egerton, Howard and Madden are simply superb in Rocketman.
John's story is recounted cleverly in the setting of an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. And it's in that scenario, in the film's final moments, when Rocketman delivers its most powerful payoff, as John offers forgiveness to those who have hurt him most in life. Additionally, he asks forgiveness of those same people for his own transgressions. Powerful, indeed.

Huge props are owed to the film's superb cast. Taron Egerton doesn't play Elton John — he becomes Elton John. Jamie Bell as Bernie Taupin, Richard Madden as John Reid and Bryce Dallas Howard as John's mother, Sheila also deliver amazing performances.

So, was Rocketman entertaining? Of course. Was it worth the $6.95 I paid for my senior's matinee discount ticket? Sure. Heck, I'm even gonna see it again, and take my GF. But it was no Bohemian Rhapsody. Which is unfortunate, as I expected this film to clear that bar easily. But what I find particularly baffling is, why on earth would such an adult, "R"-rated film be produced to seemingly appeal to such an impressionable teenage audience? Hmm, odd. 3.5/5

-Christopher Long
(June 2019)



C'MON! -

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

TV REVIEW: Dead To Me - Season One (Netflix 2019)

Dead To Me
Season One
(Netflix 2019)

I waited until I had consumed
all 10 episodes before offering
any personal commentary on
this new Netflix series. It's
gonna be tough to convey my
enthusiasm without casting
spoilers. But I'll do my best.

Created by Liz Feldman, season one of the new Netflix series, Dead to Me, premiered on May 3, 2019. Executive produced by Feldman, Will Ferrell, Adam McKay and Jessica Elbaum, the 10-episode series presents an impeccable cast and delivers a uniquely irresistible story — one that oozes heart-stopping tension, edge-of-your-seat suspense and plenty of GOTCHA-factor.

The show's official website sums up the story succinctly and spoiler-free — A hotheaded widow, Jen (played by Christina Applegate) searches for the hit-and-run driver who mowed down her husband (Ted) while she befriends an eccentric optimist, Judy (played by Linda Cardellini) who isn't quite who she seems. Let the games begin!

Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini "crush it" in Dead to Me.
Leading the charge as Jen, Applegate first achieved widespread acclaim in the late '80s, co-starring as the bubble-headed, blond beauty, Kelly Bundy, in the iconic comedy TV series, Married.. with Children. More recently, she enjoyed enormous Broadway success in the Tony Award-nominated revival production of Sweet Charity. However, Applegate is endeared to me personally more for her big screen roles in some of my all-time favorite films, including Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead, The Sweetest Thing, Surviving Christmas and Employee of the Month. But it is her cameo performance in "Rattlesnake Kisses," the 1990 music video from the LA-based rock band, Electric Angels that still leaves me breathless.

Co-starring as Judy, Jen's "partner in crime," Linda Cardellini first popped onto my personal radar with her scene-stealing performance as Heather the Psychopath in the 1997 hit comedy flick, Good Burger. She would later be nominated for an Emmy Award for her steamy role as Sylvia Rosen in the wildly popular dramatic AMC TV series, Mad Men.

The on-screen chemistry between Applegate and Cardelini is incredible — two supremely talented actresses playing compelling, well-drawn characters in an equally compelling, well-written story. Sort of a modern-day domestic version of Thelma and Louise.

Truth be told, the entire cast is completely up to the task of telling this outrageous tale. Both James Marsden and Valerie Mahaffey are delightfully unlikable in their respective roles as Judy's ex, Steve and Jen's mother-in-law, Lorna. Diana Maria Riva also is rock solid as Ana Perez, the tough-as-nails cop assigned to crack Ted's hit-and-run case. And I was over the moon to discover former Tony Orlando and Dawn singer, Telma Hopkins as Yolanda, a member of Jen and Judy's grief support group.

Simply put, Dead to Me leaves viewers quarantined with the un-peeling of each gasp-inducing storyline layer. Who was where, and when? Who was sleeping with who? The shocking revelation of Jen's brush with breast cancer mirrors that of Applegate's reported real life experience. And while brimming with misguided religious perspectives, it's refreshing that the only one who really has a pure grasp of a "relationship" with Jesus is the seemingly gay character, Christopher, played famously by Max Jenkins.

In sum, clocking in at a combined running time of approximately 5.5 hours, the ten 10 episodes of Dead to Me are thoroughly binge-worthy. Is it un-apologetically "adult" in content? Absolutely. But for me, it's ALL about the "story." And Dead to Me is a sensational story — arguably the shiniest crown jewel of Netflix's original series programming. #MustSeeTV

-Christopher Long
(May 2019)



C'MON! -

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

JULE VERA: Pop / Rock Poster Kids Drop "Don't"

Pop / Rock Poster Kids
Drop "Don't"

Current singer / songwriter phenom, 17-year-old Billie Eilish, grabbed headlines recently with the release of her top-selling debut record, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go. While that alone may be news-worthy, it hardly makes for an earth-shaking story. However, what does make Eilish's newfound success so surprising, and impressive is the rather unconventional manner in which she has built her audience — issuing new songs online, one by one. Huh? No radio push? No physical CDs? How can that be? Welcome to 2006, folks. The times, they are-a-changin'!

But for American pop / rock darlings, Jule Vera, introducing new music online to their devoted growing global flock, one track at a time is a practice they embraced months ago. Earlier this year, the Alabama-based brigade released the irresistible new single, Gum. And just a few days ago, they dropped their latest track, "Don't."

You "don't" wanna miss the
new single from Jule Vera.
(Hear it NOW on YouTube)

Simply put, "Don't" is a glorious stylistic mash-up of sorts — bursting with infectious Kate Bush-flavored melody and fueled (seemingly) by hypnotic Halsey-inspired beats. The lyrics reveal angelic frontchick, Ansley Newman, taunting and teasing a delusional would-be suitor, while measures of guitar-driven, electronic pop drip from the digital grooves like warm, sticky, supah-sah-weet honey. 

A collaborative effort between Newman, bassist William Stacey, guitarist Jake Roland and drummer Kyle Horvath, “Don't" further showcases Jule Vera’s ever-maturing songwriting talent and production savvy — resulting in a sinfully delicious aural seduction — one you "don't" wanna miss. Taste the magic for yourself, NOW on Spotify.

-Christopher Long
(May 2019)




C'MON! -