Saturday, February 20, 2016

MELBOURNE, FLORIDA'S THEATRE FOR YOUTH SEASON WRAPS-UP (With a BANG!)

MELBOURNE, FLORIDA'S
THEATRE FOR YOUTH
SEASON WRAPS-UP
(With a BANG!)
_________________________

With Christmas now a
distant memory, and
Spring Break already
on the horizon, another
school year will soon
be in the rearview.
_________________________

Under the supervision of director, Karen Wilson, the Maxwell C. King Center's Theatre for Youth  program has been educating and entertaining young people on Florida's Space Coast for more than 20 years. And with the 2015-16 school year already winding-down, Wilson and company are wrapping-up the current season — with a BANG!

As an ardent, longtime supporter of the King Center, the Space Coast arts community and kids, I've attended countless Theatre for Youth productions over the years — including this season's final two shows. Hence, you can take it to the bank when I tell you that these two "encore" presentations are absolutely NOT to be missed!

THE PEKING ACROBATS
Wednesday / March 16th / 10:30am
Read my original review
from 2014 HERE.

VOCAL TRASH
Thursday / May 5th / 10:30am
Read my original review
from 2014 HERE.

Tickets still remain for both shows, but I wouldn't wait around much longer. To ensure the best possible seating for your kids, or school group, I'd connect with the King Center either in person, by phone, or online, ASAP.

-Christopher Long
(February 2016)

Theatre for Youth and 
Outreach Program
(321) 433-5718
_________________

(321) 242-2219


The latest from author Christopher Long
is available NOW on Amazon.

Also from Christopher Long...
Get it on Amazon.

Currently in development...

Monday, February 8, 2016

CARL CAZESSUS: Introducing My Latest Guest Contributor

CARL CAZESSUS
Introducing My Latest
Guest Contributor
_________________________

Carl Cazessus is a super-swell
guy with a really cool story.
He possesses an honest, pure
passion for people, pro golf
and Deep Purple. I also find
his personal faith testimony
to be particularly fascinating.
I hope you agree. And I look
forward to Carl sharing more
of his personal stories and
insights throughout 2016.
_________________________

It's my heartfelt desire to help others find some meaning from life. It has been a rewarding effort, looking back recently at my life up to this point. Perhaps my story can be of benefit to you as well.

I grew up in Santa Maria, California during the 1960s with my parents and four brothers. I'm the second youngest. Those were certainly exciting times for my family. The beach scene was beginning to explode with the sounds of The Beach Boys, along with Frankie Avalon and his cast of on-screen characters. Our household was alive and well. My dad worked in the new field of aerospace at Vandenberg Air Force Base, while my mom was in charge of overseeing the home front. Baseball was my main sport at the time. I also minored in tether ball and pickin' on the girls during recess. Sitting in the classroom proved challenging for me.

On Sunday mornings, my mom endured the fun task of gathering me and my brothers into the green and white 1957 Pontiac family station wagon for the weekly commute to the local Lutheran Church. My heart was "opened" early on, as I was interested in the things that I could grasp in Sunday school and in the church service. I recall my mom's efforts to keep her crew in line during the services. Something about her glaring eyes said, "Wait till I get you out in the Pontiac." That look tended to keep our normal mischief to a minimum.

My heart as a little boy was beginning to lean towards the heart of Jesus. One overcast afternoon, I observed the sun's rays breaking through the clouds. "That must be God!" I spoke out loud, as I was moved by this powerful demonstration  this "divine expression." I'd often read my mom's Bible examining and absorbing the Ten Commandments with my young scholarly mind.

Another pivotal event also took place while we were living in California. One evening, after dinner, my mom and dad shared with us the news of my dad's impending job transfer, and we soon loaded up the Pontiac and headed east. As best as I remember, we made that move to Florida in 1966. A few years later, I entered Kennedy Jr. High School. I recall that life was becoming confusing to me and I began questioning authority figures my parents, teachers, and the church. Their influence was being compromised slowly by cultural influences music, Vietnam War protests, and the nation's exploding drug craze.

BRRR! Am I actually in Florida?
(Feels like I'm back in North Dakota!)
My brothers and I soon began taking up the sport of surfing. Our local beach scene was a haven for drug use. Drugs had begun to gain popularity among the students in my school as well. I was of the opinion that the "cool kids" were the ones doing drugs. Wanting to be "cool" AND popular, I also began to experiment with pot. Looking back at my early teens, I can now see that I was a follower, and not a leader. But as I graduated into high school, my desire to experiment with other drugs grew stronger. As a senior, I began using psychedelics (LSD). Fortunately, my parents made efforts to help turn my life around. Yet, despite receiving their loving discipline, I remained "hell bent" on doing my own thing.

Mom continued to press for her boys to attend the local Lutheran church. We argued strongly with my mom at times about going to church — especially when the surf was up. We somehow changed her position, and soon, we rarely darkened church doorways.

After barely graduating from Rockledge High School, my dad received another job offer. This time we moved to North Dakota. My older brothers were out of the nest at that time, so along with my parents and younger brother, I moved north. Talk about a culture shock! Until we moved North Dakota, I'd never seen snow or experienced such arctic temperatures.

While living in North Dakota, my dad helped me land my first big job, working for the Boeing Company at Grand Forks Air Force Base. Boeing had received a contract from the U.S. government in our national defense system. My job was in the field of logistics, as a store keeper (parts were my business). I liked my job at the time, and I was making really good money. I bought a new car paying that baby off shortly after driving it off the lot. But I didn't fit in well with my new winter wonderland surroundings. I began drinking beer frequently — adding 30 pounds to my frame in less than two years!

As my job at Grand Forks was nearing completion, I received an offer from Boeing to transfer to Montana. I thanked Boeing for their offer, but I chose instead to head back to Florida — a decision based solely on a personal need to thaw-out and a desire to party with old friends. Little did I know that it was God directing me back to the "Sunshine State." After months of primarily partying and surfing, I began working at Kennedy Space Center. The nation's space shuttle program had just begun, and I was working in the logistic field for the program's ground support crews.

Just another day at "the office!"
First as a store keeper, and then as a logistics section delivery driver, I began meeting many new people. One who stood out among the crowd was a man named Morris Lewis. Morris was a simple, easy-going kind of man who was rarely ever down or mad. I saw Morris frequently, as he supplied me with some of the parts I needed to pick up and deliver.

Year by year, my personal outlook on life had become increasingly more depressing. I was confused because, by Hollywood and Madison Avenue standards, I had obtained pretty much all that I needed in order to secure happiness in life. But my money, girlfriends, sports, and other interests were clearly not the answer to my heart's issue. I began sharing my feelings of unhappiness with Morris, and he seemed genuinely interested in my well-being. As our friendship grew, I began noticing the peace that Morris enjoyed in his life.

I asked him one day why his life seemed different from my own, as well as others. He told me simply, "Carl, I have Jesus in my life!" His answer penetrated the deepest part of my soul. Growing ever-weary of the way my life was going, I knelt beside my bed one evening. Feeling desperate and alone. I prayed sincerely to God. I recall saying the words, " Father God, I am so sick and tired of my life. Please take control! I meant business and I sensed God doing work in my heart immediately. I slept very well that night and I awoke the next morning knowing that a divine transformation had taken place. I suddenly felt joy and peace in my heart. Furthermore, the gnawing hunger and emptiness had now disappeared.

Today, I marvel at how Jesus has met me through life's twists and turns. I'm thankful for how He lovingly challenged me to surrender control of my life. And He didn't force me into making that decision. I wish that I could write how since that defining moment in November 1979, I have never failed Jesus and that my life has always been a bed of roses. Nope. I've made many mistakes, and I truly regret the decisions that have hurt myself and the ones I love. But I will NEVER regret the decision to surrender my heart and life to Jesus. I'm ever-amazed by how Jesus brings purpose into life's most challenging and trying issues.

As I wrap up my story, I would like to ask, is there a "gnawing" in your heart? Is what you are living for bringing you joy and peace? Well, I ask you to prayerfully consider what I have shared. And if I can help you in any way, please feel free to contact me. If you can't find me out on the golf course, I encourage you to reach out via my personal e-mail address. (carlosmcaz@aol.com)

Jesus' Best 2U!

-Carl
(February 2016)
_______________________________

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 site 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 
_______________________________


Thursday, February 4, 2016

PAUL KANTNER: One of My True Rock Heroes

PAUL KANTNER
One of My True Rock Heroes
___________________________

When it came to social and
political perspectives, there
was very little on which we
agreed. In fact, if trapped
in a room with the man for
more than 15 minutes, he'd
have likely chewed my face
off. However, when it came
to music, I was on board
with Paul Kantner, 100%.
___________________________

The summer of 1975 brought about a personal season of tremendous musical discovery. I was a young, wide-eyed church boy, transplanted recently from the Midwest to Central Florida. I'd also been moving further away that summer from many of my longtime pop music favorites, including John Denver, The Carpenters and Olivia Newton-John, while gravitating more towards such edgier rock artists as KISS, David Bowie, and Alice Cooper. I can still recall that day in July, when I walked into the record department of my local Sears store. I couldn't help but notice the row of vibrant red album covers positioned prominently in the "New Release" display — the words, JEFFERSON STARSHIP: RED OCTOPUS blazoned across the front in huge gold print.

Sweeter than honey, indeed.
As a twelve-year-old kid who also was enthralled by such R&B acts as Ohio Players, Earth, Wind & Fire and Stevie Wonder, the name Paul Kantner meant nothing. I also had little knowledge of, and even less interest in, the Woodstock-era, hippy-dippy proverbs preached by his previous project. In fact, in 1975, I'd never even heard of Jefferson Airplane. All I knew was that everything about this "new" rock band seemed cool. The name was cool, the album cover was cool, the title was cool, the photo of the band on the back cover was cool  and that girl singer was really pretty.

Before long, my favorite Orlando Top 40 radio station, BJ 105, had placed the band's infectious feel-good, "Miracles," into heavy rotation. I immediately begged (and I do mean begged) my mom to PLEASE buy me a copy of the single — she did. And in short order, I'd lost my mind completely. Simply put, Elton John was OUT   my world now was ALL about ONE band — Jefferson Starship.

I still own my original "Miracles" 45.
(Thanks, Mom!)
Once I'd finally saved up enough lunch money to buy the entire Red Octopus album, my (now) teenage obsession with Jefferson Starship quickly ramped up even further. The sweet screeching of Papa John Creach's fiery fiddle pinned against Kantner and Craig Chaquico's delightfully organic electric and acoustic guitar work on the opening track, "Fast Buck Freddie," was unlike anything I'd heard before  making for a warm, seductive bed on which to gently place Grace Slick's enchanting vocals. Other album highlights that got me reeling included "Git Fiddler," "Sweeter Than Honey" and "There Will Be Love," as well as arguably one of the band's all-time strongest tunes, the Slick / Pete Sears-penned gem, "Play On Love."  40+ years later, Red Octopus still sounds fresh to me, and it remains one of my absolute favorite rock records.

Jefferson Starship, circa 1976.
(Balin, Kantner, Freiberg, Slick,
Sears, Barbata and Chaquico)
The next two Jefferson Starship records, Spitfire (1976) and Earth (1978) both brought me near-Red Octopus-caliber joy. And I remained "on board" fully with Kantner and his flight crew  even through the band's initial splintering — right up until the moment Kantner himself jumped ship, mid-way through the 1984 Nuclear Furniture tour the tour on which I'd finally gotten to see him perform live.

Still representin' after 40+ years.
I was extremely saddened last week, upon receiving a text message from a buddy with whom I'd attended that 1984 Jefferson Starship concert, apprising me of Paul Kantner's death at age 74. But, as I reflected on the news (now at age 53), I was transported immediately back to that Sears record department where I first discovered Kantner and his music in the summer of 1975 — and it made my heart happy, again. Great artists and great music can do wonderful, magical stuff like that. And fortunately, for fans around the world, Paul Kantner has left us with plenty of wonderful, magical, and timeless music. Well done, Captain!

-Christopher Long
(February 2016)


The latest from author Christopher Long
is available NOW on Amazon.

Also from Christopher Long...
Get it on Amazon.

Currently in development...