Saturday, May 31, 2014

SUMMER READING: 2014

SUMMER READING: 
2014
___________________________

What goes better with
relaxing in the surf,
sand and sun than a
cool drink and a hot
read? And I've got a
bunch of groovy new
books stashed in the
ol' iBag this season!
___________________________ 

CRESTON MAPES
Poison Town (2.1.14)
Sky Zone (6.1.14)

Atlanta-based author Creston Mapes
delivers the finest "beach blanket" thrillers
around! Last summer, I was reeled in and
quarantined by Fear Has a Name — the
first installment of his "Crittendon Files"
 trilogy. This summer, I'm kicking off
the season by finishing up Pt. II, Poison
Town. And in short order, I expect to be
devouring the series conclusion, Sky
Zone, when it's released next week.
___________________________

 JOSEPH PRINCE
(10.22.13)

I consider Joseph Prince to be one of my
best friends — although we've never met.
Simply put, his 2010 book, Destined to
Reign was a life-changing read. I was
delighted when I received a copy of his
latest, The Power of Right Believing, a
few days ago from my writing partner,
Bryan Dumas.I finally got a chance to
dive into it this morning. And it is, in
a word, magnificent!
"When you believe right,
you will live right."
-Joseph Prince
___________________________

BRIAN JOYCE
(10.15.13)

This book came recommended to me
recently by a friend on GoodReads.
I was intrigued immediately by the
promising story of 17-year-old Rory,
a young man coming to grips with his
loss of innocence, the discovery of
truths and — punk rock music. I'll
certainly keep ya posted on this one!
___________________________

CHAD PEERY
(3.15.09)

Stealing Margo was sent my way just a
few days ago by my friend Crystal —
a super-cool chick who "gets" my taste
in books. She's never steered me wrong
in the past, hence, I'm eager to tear
into it sometime before Labor Day!
___________________________

ANNA R. WEAVER
(11.14.12)

The latest from author Anna
Weaver appears to be the story
of her real-life experiences as a
 member of a Christian version
of The Partridge Family.

I'm SO on board!

Okay, enough writing — I've got some serious reading to do!

Hey, can somebody give me a hand with this darn sunscreen please?

-Christopher Long
(May 2014)


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Thursday, May 29, 2014

GUEST POST: "XII" by Tatiana Martin

XII
by Tatiana Martin 
_____________________________

At age 18, my BFF Tatiana
Martin is the greatest and
most inspiring person I have
ever known. A truly gifted
young writer, I've been trying
to persuade her to contribute
a blog feature for nearly two
years. Today, she finally
delivered — and it's a gem.
Enjoy!
_____________________________
The number 12 evokes several connotations, and is a very well-known universal number throughout the world. In the ancient Greek religion, there were 12 Olympian gods who ruled over the Pantheon. In the Christian religion, there are 12 days of Christmas and 12 apostles of Jesus. King Arthur had 12 knights sitting at his round table with him. There are 12 pairs of ribs in the human body, 12 inches in a foot, and 12 face cards in a deck.

Aside from being a rather recurring number in the society around us, the number 12 is one that applies to me on a very personal level. For 12 long and miserable years, I watched helplessly as my mom suffered the corollaries of cancer and its heavy, radioactive treatment. Regardless of her ailing state, however, she never failed to give her life to others. Barely even able to walk each day, my mother did everything in her power to make sure everyone around her was not only content, but in a better place than herself.

Just like the Aztecs predicted the earth to come to an end, the date 12/12/12 was the day my world collapsed, the day my best friend, my mother passed away. For an extended period of time, I wallowed in self-pity, asking the same question over and over again: why would this happen to me? While I sat with my mom, holding her hand until her very last breath, I felt my callow, adolescent life slowly transform into womanhood. As I felt my whole world cave in, I somehow knew that it was the end of one life, yet the beginning of a new one.

It wasn't until a few months later when I took on the role of being a caregiver to my 12-year-old sister that I truly felt the call to nurture others. My life started to revolve around her — from dawn until dusk I would cook breakfast, take her to school, clean her laundry, tidy the house, do the dishes and take her to doctor appointments. But most importantly, I made sure that there was always a smile on her face and love in her heart. Shockingly, however, I noticed that it wasn't so much me making the difference in her life; she was completely altering mine. Her great optimism and heart made me want to strive to give to others the happiness that she offered me.

Needless to say, the day of my mom’s passing was the day that I started to realize how short and outrageously beautiful life is. It opened my eyes to the world around me and made me truly realize how blessed I am to have what I have: a family, supportive friends, a home, and most importantly — faith. My mom's 12 favorite words: “there’s always going to be someone bearing a heavier cross than you” started to thrive in my brain, and I tried the best I could to live with this quote engraved in my heart.

In the summer of 2013, I was invited to attend a Catholic youth conference called Steubenville by the youth ministers at my local parish. There, I learned about opportunities to help the poverty-stricken, especially a tiny African nation called Burkina Faso, the third poorest country in the world. I participated in a food-packaging event and helped  assemble 100,000 meals for this landlocked nation. Knowing that thousands of people were willing to come together for such a cause, I was inspired to organize a similar event to help feed the people  who desperately need it the most.

I contacted the main food supplier in Orlando, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), and they provided me with the price of each bag of food: $.50 for a four-serving bag of soy, rice, dehydrated vegetables, and a vitamin packet. After hosting several meetings with many officials at my church, we all agreed that raising $10,000 to package 20,000 meals for Africa would be the most reasonable amount, financially and physically. Throughout the course of two weeks, I spent roughly 210 hours publicizing this event on social media sites, speaking to large masses of people, and hosting a pep rally for the church’s school, asking for about 300 packaging volunteers and large amounts of monetary support. Our goal slowly increased and by the completion of our two-week funding period, we more than doubled our goal and raised $25,000 — enough to package 50,000 bags of food, and had about 1,200 volunteers sign up to package meals. This was CRS’s largest single-parish meal packaging movement ever to be conducted in America.

Organizing my meal-packaging event not only satisfied the cravings of 200,000 starving citizens in Africa, but it helped nourish my passion toward helping people in this world who have less than I do. Being offered an internship at Orlando’s CRS headquarters to host more of these humanitarian events, and even being personally invited to lead a full-paid mission trip to Burkina Faso by the executive secretary of the United Nations, the most important aspect that my leadership position granted me was the ability to find myself, and pinpoint exactly what I want to do in my future: care for others, and put into action the unconditional love that my mother supplied to the world.

After being diagnosed with cancer in the year 2000, the doctors gave my mother about six years to live, however, she refused to give up and lived six more than that. In church, they say that God made man in his own image, and my mom’s short life has proved this to be 112% true. I thank God every day that I had the strongest woman in the world to pass down the purest love, strength, and God’s grace for me to continue to leave an impact on the world.
-Tatiana Martin
(May 2014)
________________________________


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 blog 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
________________________________


Monday, May 26, 2014

GREATEST LIVE ALBUMS OF ROCK AND ROLL (Pt. III)

THE GREATEST LIVE 
ALBUMS OF ROCK AND ROLL
(Pt. III)
 _____________

In Pt. I and Pt. II of this series,
I covered the "biggest" and the
"best" live albums of all time.
Today, I'll be taking a look at
the "sleepers" and the "stinkers."
_____________

SLEEPERS
These amazing live sets should have
catapulted the mid-level acts into the
big time, yet they failed to deliver
Frampton-like results.

5
UFO
(1979)

A modest hit on the band's home turf in the
U.K., this double-live album should have
cemented UFO's international superstar
status. However, it only reached #42 on
the U.S. charts. The last LP with guitarist
Michael Schenker, it offers the cream of
the band's "A-list" crop, including "Rock
Bottom," "Lights Out," "Doctor Doctor,"
"Too Hot to Handle" and "Shoot Shoot."
__________

 4
ANGEL
(1980)

Great band. Great songs. Great live show.
But after five underachieving studio sets,
time was running out. So it's perplexing
why the most beautiful, exciting and
promising band of the day would have
opted for such an underwhelming cover
— a tremendous album nonetheless.
Within a year, Angel was no more.
__________

3
MICHAEL STANLEY
BAND
(1977)

A major Midwest live concert attraction
throughout the '70s, the Michael Stanley
Band should have become a major act
with Stage Pass. It didn't.
__________

2
HEAD EAST
(1979)

Four modest-selling studio sets and two
oft played FM singles had this Illinois-
based combo positioned for the big
time. It's been rumored that the 1979
trucker strike kept A&M from getting
product into stores in a timely fashion.
Despite getting off to a strong start, by
the time trucks were once again rolling,
the record had lost momentum.
__________

1
OZARK
MOUNTAIN
DAREDEVILS
(1978)

The pride of Springfield, MO already had
achieved gold and platinum status with its
first two albums. But by 1978, the band's
popularity was waning. It's Alive was the
perfect vehicle for showcasing OMD's
impeccable songwriting and downhome
chicken-fried style. Sadly, it tanked —
stalling at a dismal #178 on the charts. 
________________

STINKERS
Hold your noses, kids. Here they come!

5
AEROSMITH
(1978)

If the intent was to produce a sloppy,
amateur-sounding album that looked
as if it had been designed by a drunken
toddler, the mission was accomplished
perfectly. But then, compared to Just
Push Play, it's an epic masterpiece!
__________

4
KISS
(1993)

Not even a third installment of the 
iconic Alive! series could save KISS'
sinking ship in '93. This likely was
due to the record being dreadful
and the band's half-scab line-up.
__________

3
ALICE COOPER
(1977)

Seemingly "phoned in," this hour-long
Vegas show was packed with hits, yet fell
(far) short of recreating the live magic
of the original Alice Cooper Band.
__________

2
VILLAGE
PEOPLE 
(1979)

Combining "live" versions of hits with
a handful of new studio tracks, Live
and Sleazy brought an abrupt end to
the group's three-record platinum-
selling streak — effectively ushering
in the beginning of a (temporary)
 end for the once top-selling act.
__________

 1
POISON
(1991)

A more fitting title might have been
"Smell What the Cat Dragged In."
The unofficial "death rattle" for
the hair band era.
______________ 

This concludes my three-part series. I hope that you had as much fun revisiting these treasures as I did. Feel free to offer your personal suggestions and comments below. Now, where did I stash that live Abba bootleg?

-Christopher Long
(May 2014)
__________


Score the latest books from author
Christopher Long NOW on Amazon!

(2014)

C'MON! -
(2012)

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Friday, May 23, 2014

GREATEST LIVE ALBUMS OF ROCK AND ROLL (Pt. II)

THE GREATEST LIVE 
ALBUMS OF ROCK AND ROLL
(Pt. II)
 ______________

In Part One of this series, I
revisited and revealed rock's
greatest double live albums.
Today I'll be examining the
best single live sets. Enjoy!
_______________


 10
NIRVANA
(1994)

Taped in late 1993, this 14-song set was
released only six months following the
April 1994 death of founding frontman
Kurt Cobain. Combining many well-
known band staples with several other
compelling cover tunes, it has sold six
million copies worldwide and remains
one of the best UNPLUGGED releases.
__________

9
THE BLUES BROTHERS
(1978)

The brainchild of SNL's Dan Aykroyd and
John Belushi, the record featured such
legendary musicians as Steve Cropper,
Donald "Duck" Dunn, and Matt Murphy.
This chart-topper introduced authentic R&B
and blues to an all-new generation of fans.
__________

 8
JUDAS PRIEST
(1979)

Hot, up-and-coming
'70s rock band? Check.

Live album? Check.

Recorded in Japan? Check.

Simply put — this is
Judas Priest's finest moment.
__________

7
MOTORHEAD
(1988)

From the opening cut, "Doctor Rock"
to "Dogs," "Traitor," "Deaf Forever"
and "Killed by Death," this record is
packed with such timeless treasures
as the iconic "Ace of Spades" and
"Eat the Rich." Features the golden
era line-up of Lemmy"Philthy" Phil
Phil Campbell and Würzel.
__________

6
THE RUNAWAYS
(1977)

Often imitated, never duplicated, The Runaways
was the first all-girl band that truly competed
with the boys — delivering no-holds-barred
rock and roll. Years ahead of their time, Joan,
Lita, Sandy, Jackie and Cherie never achieved
the collective recognition that they deserved.
However, this down and dirty record has stood
up nicely since its 1977 release and remains a
magnificent snapshot of a superb band live on
stage, while in its prime. Highlights include
"Queens of Noise," "Neon Angels on the Road
to Ruin" and Lou Reed's, "Rock and Roll."
__________

5
FRANK MARINO &
MAHAGONY RUSH
(1978)

Channeling the spirit of Jimi Hendrix, this
Canadian power trio unleashed a monster
with its fifth album. Oozing electrified
blues-based anthems, it's a bona fide gem.
I'm a king bee, baby. Dig it!
__________

4
THE WHO
(1970)

Clocking in at a mere 35 minutes, "Leeds"
has long been regarded by critics as one
of rock's all-time greatest live records.
40+ years later, it still shines brightly.
Highlights include "Young Man Blues"
and "Summertime Blues."
__________

3
FOGHAT
(1977)

Foghat was, as they say, the "whole enchilada."
They had fabulous mustaches, cool riffs and
— great songs. Upon its release, three of the
record's six tunes ("Slow Ride," "Fool for the
City" and "I Just Wanna Make Love to You")
already had become FM staples. However,
the true magic here can best be summed up
in just two words: "Honey Hush!"
__________

2
CHEAP TRICK
(1979)

The record that wasn't even intended to be
released in America made this Illinois-
based power-pop group an overnight
international sensation. Boasting the
Top 40 hits, "Surrender," "Ain't That
a Shame" and the iconic "I Want You to
Want Me," the album remains as fresh as
ever and will likely never lose its luster.
__________

1
PAT TRAVERS
BAND
(1979)

Ello music lovers. Now, here's to kick
your ass — The Pat Travers Band!

Fueled by a lethal mixture of vintage
blues and modern hard rock, this eight-
song set is simply the most exciting,
turbo-charged live album ever!
Boom Boom, indeed.
____________

I received a personal email yesterday from a well-known rock critic who voiced his lack of enthusiasm for this series — and I couldn't have been more pleased by his disapproval. Feel free to offer your personal comments below. In Part III, I will be revisiting some of the biggest "stinkers" and "sleepers" of the live album genre — stand by!

-Christopher Long
(May 2014)
__________


Score the latest books from author
Christopher Long NOW on Amazon!

(2014)

C'MON! -
(2012)

- SUPERSTAR -
(Coming April 7, 2019)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

GREATEST LIVE ALBUMS OF ROCK AND ROLL (Pt. I)

THE GREATEST LIVE 
ALBUMS OF ROCK AND ROLL
(Pt. I)
 _____________

By the late '70s, nearly every major
rock act was jumping onto the
live album bandwagon. In fact, it
practically had become an industry
requirement. And some artists met
with better results than others.
_____________

Live albums — you can't even count 'em all! Any major classic rock act worth its weight in Viagra or Geritol has released at least one. While efforts by such superstars as Rod Stewart, The Eagles, Styx, The Doobie Brothers, Simon and Garfunkel, Journey, Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and Supertramp have offered adequate representations of their concert performances, live recordings from such biggies as Led Zeppelin, The Beatles and The Who have been epic disasters.

However, in this first installment of my new three-part series, I will revisit and celebrate the cream of the crop — the Top Ten definitive double-live rock albums of all time. So break out those Bics, 'cuz here we go!
______________

 10
TED NUGENT
(1978)

After years of non-stop touring with The Amboy Dukes,
"Uncle Ted" finally struck out on his own in '75. And in
the process, he struck gold with his self-titled solo debut.
By '78, Nugent was as hot as his Second Amendment-
protected pistol. So, that's how you refer to girls from
West Tennessee — Uh, YIKES!
__________

9
NAZARETH
(1981)

This Scottish powerhouse hit pay dirt briefly
in 1975 with the iconic Hair of the Dog LP.
Recorded during the band's headlining glory
days, It's Snaz was the perfect showcase in
which finally to "close the deal." It didn't.
However, it remains one of the best live
rock albums ever. Now you're messin' with a...
__________

 8
THE OUTLAWS
(1978)

Possessing brilliant harmonies and tasty,
triple-layered chicken pickin', Tampa's
own "Florida Guitar Army" had much
more to offer than most of its southern-
fried contemporaries. This two-record
set achieved "Gold" status and boasts
blistering versions of "Hurry Sundown,"
"There Goes Another Love Song" and
an epic-length, 20+ minute rendition
of "Green Grass and High Tides."
__________

7
REO SPEEDWAGON
(1977)

During the early and mid '70s, REO built its
audience the old fashioned way — on tour. 
However, the band had yet to  capture its
live energy and magic on record — that is
until 1977, when this turbo-charged live
set brought the Illinois-based act platinum
results. In sum, two words: "Golden Country!"
__________

 6
PAUL McCARTNEY
AND WINGS 
(1976)

In 1976, Wings was arguably the hottest act on
the planet. This colossal three-record set delivers
the best from Wings' four consecutive #1 albums
as well as an array of Beatles treasures. Features
the Top Ten hit, "Maybe I'm Amazed."
__________

 5
FLEETWOOD MAC
(1997)

After a decade-long break, the classic "Mighty
Mac" line-up reunited and reclaimed its chart-
busting crown in short order. Recorded live in
front of an adoring So-Cal audience, the band
was in top form and the songs sparkle like never
before. Offering more than a  mere nostalgia trip,
even new material including "Temporary One"
and "Bleed to Love Her" shine brightly.
__________

 4
LYNYRD SKYNYRD
(1976)

Despite the dopey jokes and mind-numbing
monotony of its over-played staples, the fact
is, Lynyrd Skynyrd was a savage rock band
— especially on stage. This record proves it.
Forget the standards. Just soak in the raw power
of "Saturday Night Special," "Needle and the
Spoon" and "Whiskey Rock-a-Roller." 'Nuff said!
__________

 3
THE
ALLMAN BROTHERS
BAND
(1971)

Although KISS has been given (too) much
of the credit for igniting the live album craze,
be sure that the Allman Brothers lit that fuse
long before the "masked messiahs." Four
sides and seven songs worth of pure passion.
"Oh Lord, I feel like I'm dying!"
__________

 2
PETER FRAMPTON
(1976)

If there was ever a musician who was an
honorary member of San Francisco's
society — Mr. Peter Frampton! 
From that iconic Jerry Pompili intro
to the final wah-wah of "Do You Feel
Like We Do," this landmark multi-
million seller made Frampton an instant
household name and remains as fresh-
sounding as when it arrived in stores in '76.
__________

1
BOB SEGER
(1976)

Recorded live in Dee-troit — before he became
an "over-night" sensation. Although "Turn the
Page" has become the acknowledged "darling" of
FM radio programmers, "Nutbush City Limits,"
"Ramblin' Gamblin' Man," "Katmandu," "Get
Out of Denver" and "Let it Rock" are the true
gems. This is THE ultimate live rock and roll
album ever — bar none!
 ___________

There ya go, kids. You're now permitted to walk about the cabin freely. You're also welcome to discuss this among yourselves, and by all means, you're certainly welcome to post your comments below. Get ready — Part Two of this three-part series is on the way — stand by! (Pt. II / Pt. III)

-Christopher Long
(May 2014)
__________


Score the latest books from author
Christopher Long NOW on Amazon!

(2014)

C'MON! -
(2012)

- SUPERSTAR -
(Coming April 7, 2019)