Tuesday, June 25, 2013

GREATEST SUMMER JAMS!

GREATEST 
SUMMER JAMS!
______________

The family vacation in
1968, moving to Florida 
in 1975, and the first time 
kissed "that girl" in 1980. 
Many of my life's most 
magical memories have 
played out during those 
lazy, hazy, crazy days of
summer. And they always 
seem to be set to music. 
_______________

I grew up with an unbridled obsession with Top 40 radio. Hence, up until 1975, my "Summer Jams" all consisted of an eclectic mix of the days' hit singles — ah yes, The Hughes Corporation's "Rock the Boat" — now that truly was a great jam! However, my perspective changed in 1976. That's when my hell-raising, motorcycle-riding, cigarette-smoking, girl-chasing, teenage buddy Ronnie Burns introduced me to KISS' landmark LP, Destroyer. "Summer Jams" suddenly had a whole new flavor.

There have been many others over the years. In the summer of '77, everyone at my beachside junior high school was required by law to own a copy of Fleetwood Mac Rumors. And when I first experimented with drugs in high school during the summer of '78, The Rolling Stones' Some Girls  provided the soundtrack.


"Summer Jams" are personal. They enhance the mental snapshots that we keep tucked away in our private photo albums along with the physical Polaroids from the trip to Gatlinburg and that cookout when Uncle Hank fell into the pool. And they aren't limited to just iconic blockbusters. Although Journey's billion-selling Escape album ruled the roost in my world during the summer of '81, Cheap Trick's considerably less successful One On One cassette tape remained glued in my boombox throughout the "dog days" of '82.

As with many of my life's great romances, I've never known exactly with whom I'd be dancing from summer to summer. Would she be the innocent blond from next door or the crazy brunette with the Xanax issue who's visiting from Cleveland? In that regard, my "Summer Jam" possibilities also have been endless and varied. I was hooked on the arena rock sound of the Vinnie Vincent Invasion's All Systems Go in '88. However, just one year later, I couldn't get enough of alterno darlings, 10,000 Maniacs'  Blind Man's Zoo.


Aside from the birth of my son, the '90s  sucked completely. NO FUN ALLOWED — PERIOD! And I desperately was seeking at least ONE amazing post-grunge jam to give me hope that the entire decade wouldn't be a total loss. Then, there it was — snappy and happy — No Doubt's Tragic Kingdom. Yes, the decade was nearly salvaged in the summer of '96.

But I'm an old man now. I mean, like I'm turning 51 this year. Yikes — that's  really old! And in a day when the names of top-selling "music" "artists" seemingly all start with "Lil," I'm having difficulty connecting. My last truly fabulous and memorable "Summer Jam" was Blue October's Foiled, way back in '06. In fact, given the current very shallow summer (gene) pool, I've now introduced a new category — the Throwback "Summer Jam." Hey, let's bring Get the Knack back around for another spin!


Fortunately, I'm more focused on people than on music these days. My experience as a camp youth leader in 2012 provided me with my greatest summer memories ever. And I'll soon be headed out once again with a crew of teenage peeps from Merritt Island, Florida as we converge on Camp Kulaqua in Gainsville for a week's worth of non-stop summer fun and fellowship. I just hope they'll let me bring my boombox!

So how about you? What are some of your favorite summer memories and jams?

-Christopher Long
(June 2013)



SUPERSTAR -
__________

SHOUT IT OUT LOUD -
(2014)
__________

C'MON! -
(2012)

Saturday, June 22, 2013

MOVIE REVIEW: "The Internship"

MOVIE REVIEW
The Internship
________________

The comedic combo of Vaughn
and Wilson makes me laugh —
plain and simple. In fact, they
could team up in a film entitled,
STAGE 4: No Hope for the Dying,
and I'd be rolling down the aisle.
As for their latest collaboration,
the laughs ensue immediately.
______________

Directed by Shawn Levy, and written by Vince Vaughn with Jared Stern, The Internship reunites Vaughn as Billy McMahon with Wilson as Nick Campbell — two unemployed, 40-something watch salesmen who endeavor successfully to be chosen for the internship program at Internet technology giant, Google.

While parts of The Internship were shot on location at the actual Googleplex headquarters in Mountain View, California, most of the film was shot at the Atlanta campus of the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Essentially, The Internship is a not-so cleverly disguised younger brother to Vaughn and Wilson's 2005 blockbuster comedy, Wedding Crashers — from the buddy-buddy, co-worker dynamic of the two lead characters, right down to the Will Ferrell cameo appearance — Mom! The meatloaf! But it's a formula that works.


For a 50-year-old guy like myself whose idea of a technological breakthrough was graduating from 8-track to cassette back in 2008, I found the story of two other clueless middle-aged guys competing against college kids in a field they know nothing about to be fresh and laugh-out-loud funny.

I don't personally go to (most) movies looking for a message. I'm looking merely to escape for a while. And I don't want to escape to someplace worse than where I came. I typically just want to be entertained and to laugh for a couple of hours. In that regard, The Internship pays enormous dividends.


But be sure that despite offering non-stop laughs, The Internship does also offer two well-defined messages. And given Vaughn and Wilson's mass appeal and the film's PG-13 rating, those messages are aimed squarely at the hip, young, super-savvy, iGeneration. On the upside, the message from Billy and Nick to their younger colleagues, encouraging them to occasionally "look up just three inches" from their iGadgets and participate in real life is relevant and powerful indeed. However, the greater message is a rather disturbing one — "Get drunk and be somebody." Only through the experience of a tequila-soaked night carousing in a strip joint, do we see the film's unlikable, 20-year-old, techno geeks suddenly become cool and endearing. It's a dangerous message that is further amplified when uptight brainiac, Stuart, confesses to Nick the next morning that their booze-fueled debauchery had made for the greatest night of his life.

Listen, I'm no prude. In my past, I've dealt drugs and groupies to rock stars and have participated in some downright shameful backstage shenanigans. But I never wanted to tie a tablecloth around my neck and jump off my parents' roof until I saw my superheroes flying across the big screen. Contrary to what some may believe, movies do have a profound influence on culture — now more than ever. And as a Christian youth leader, I found the primary message presented in The Internship to be troubling.

But enough preaching (for now). In sum, I did enjoy The Internship thoroughly. In fact, I just might go see it again. And I'd recommend it highly to other mature adults who share my penchant for smart, crisp, edgy humor, but who also can discern Gospel truths from Hollywood lies.

-Christopher Long
(June 2013)



SUPERSTAR -
__________

SHOUT IT OUT LOUD -
(2014)
__________

C'MON! -
(2012)