Sunday, October 8, 2017

MOVIE REVIEW: Battle of the Sexes

MOVIE REVIEW
Battle of the Sexes
Decibel Films / Cloud Eight Films
(Running time 1:21 minutes)
__________________________

Arriving officially at theaters
(in limited release) on 9/22,
the highly-anticipated, all-
star tour de force made its
way finally to my town this
weekend. Jubilant, for sure!
"One 'senior' matinee ticket to
Battle of the Sexes, please!"
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Playing out for the first hour as a seemingly, tennis-tinged LBGTQ recruitment film, Battle of the Sexes rebounds nicely in the second half — ultimately recounting the compelling, Rocky-caliber story I actually had paid to see.

Directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris succeed in recreating (with amazing accuracy), the story of the iconic 1973 tennis match-up between reigning women's champ, Billie Jean King and former men's champ, Bobby Riggs — an event that changed forever how professional sporting events would be packaged, produced and promoted — while simultaneously blowing the lid off the era's social / sexual revolution. You've come a long way, babyindeed.

An authentic, tension-filled
scene from Battle of the Sexes
(The Houston Astrodome / 9.20.73)
Simply put, moviegoers can absolutely believe the hype, as Battle of the Sexes is truly one of the year's very best films. Emma Stone and Steve Carell each serve Oscar-worthy performances in their respective lead roles portraying King and Riggs, while kudos are also owed to Sarah Silverman as the savvy businesswoman, Gladys Heldman and Jessica McNamee as the vilified conservative women's tennis champ, Margaret Court.

Although a few creative liberties are taken in retelling the legendary tale, Battle of the Sexes scores high marks over all for authenticity — from the era-specific clothing, coiffs and cars to the actual old school video footage of such prominent newscasters as Howard K. Smith and sportscasters, including Howard Cosell. Featuring classic cuts from the likes of Elton John, George Harrison and Aerosmith, even the film's music soundtrack is a spot-on, gloriously shag-covered treat.

-Christopher Long
(October 2017)

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Sunday, October 1, 2017

JOHN DENVER: A Personal "Rocky Mountain" Tribute

JOHN DENVER
A Personal "Rocky
Mountain" Tribute
__________________________

One my life's biggest
bummers is that I never
had an opportunity to
hug John Denver and
say, "Thanks, dude."
__________________________

Monday, October 13, 1997 — 20 years this month — gone in a flash. But I still can recall with vivid clarity the day the music really died. Like most folks, I was moved personally by the tragic deaths of Keith MoonJohn Bonham and John Lennon. The more recent losses of such music icons as Frank ZappaFreddie Mercury and Eric Carr also had rocked my world. However, it was the shocking news reports of John Denver's untimely death in a plane crash on the previous day that literally knocked the breath from my lungs and brought me to my knees.

Honest and pure, John Denver's work was one of my earliest and most profound musical influences — gloriously appealing vocals pinned to (seemingly) simple acoustic guitar parts, woven into delightfully irresistible melodies and poured over compelling personal stories of life, love and nature. "FAR OUT," to be sure! Yet, despite his super-sized, superstar heyday status, Denver's brilliant artistry tended to get glossed over by his "goody-two-shoes" persona — the boy-next-door bowl cut, the studious-looking wire-rimmed specs and his authentic made-for-primetime charisma.

My personal passport to peace.
A well-documented "troubled soul" in his personal life, Denver's music (ironically) was happy and uplifting. In fact, nearly every warm-feeling, sweet-smelling childhood memory I have of growing up in Springfield, Missouri and Orlando, Florida during the mid '70's is attached somehow to John Denver's music. No other artist has created music capable of transporting me to such beautiful places — even beautifully painful places.

When Denver introduced fans to his uncle in the lyrics of the 1974 album track, "Matthew," you couldn't help but be moved by the poignant family story of love and loss. His slew of signature love songs, including "Annie's Song," "My Sweet Lady" and "Leaving on a Jet Plane" remain truly timeless classics, while such staples as "Rocky Mountain High," "Take Me Home, Country Roads," "Sunshine on My Shoulders" and my personal favorite, "Poems, Prayers and Promises," feel as fresh today as when they first were recorded.

Still fresh. Still sweet.
Denver's TV specials were ratings winners. His 1977 feature film, Oh, God! — a bona fide blockbuster. Along with Francis Scott Key, he also has the distinction of being one of only two songwriters to have penned two different state songs — impressive, indeed! And in his 1985 testimony before the U.S. Senate, Denver "jammed it" right down Tipper Gore's throat during the PMRC hearings — truly epic performance!

John Denver was a humanitarian with whom I agreed some of the time. And he was a political activist with whom I agreed (almost) none of the time. But at the end of the day, WHO CARES? It's supposed to be "all about the music," right?

Truth be told, as a Christian, even I can get (extremely) "overwhelmed" once in a while. And at those particularly dark times — those moments when the voices are getting to me most, I often still seek solace in the songs of John Denver — even after 45 years. "Thanks, dude." (JohnDenver.com)

-Christopher Long
(October 2017)

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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

MOVIE REVIEW: Mother!

MOVIE REVIEW
Mother!
Paramount Pictures
(Running time: 121 minutes)
_________________________

As a creepy super-fan,
I can choke down any
Jennifer Lawrence flick.
Well, almost.
_________________________

Director Darren Aronofsky can spin the lackluster reception of his near-masterpiece however he likes. But truth be told, Mother! misses the mark because the glorious-looking, edge-of-your-seat thriller is also a confusing cluster that offers the audience ZERO payoff. In fact, if it weren't for the insightful 20-something seated next to me, explaining all the gobbledygook — endless cryptic metaphors regarding religion and Mother Earth, I would probably have been scowling during the end credits — rather than snorting (out loud).

Be sure, Jennifer Lawrence is as delicious to look at here as ever — and her lead role actually serves as one of her personal all-time best performances. Co-lead, Javier Bardem, offers an equally compelling performance. In fact, from Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer to Domhnall Gleeson and Brian Gleeson, the entire cast delivers in spades. 

In sum, Mother! seemingly wants to be a modern-day Rosemary's Baby — yeah, about that. However, the film does ooze nail-biting suspense and plenty-o-entertainment factor — in spite of the often jarring story. Really, Darren? After getting dragged down a deranged rabbit trail for more than two hours  THIS is the "finish line?" Oy vey!

-Christopher Long
(September 2017)

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Friday, September 22, 2017

JESSE TANNER LONG: "Scooping Smiles!"

JESSE TANNER LONG
"Scooping Smiles!"
_________________________

I noticed a very interesting
Facebook quote recently  
one credited to Steve Jobs.
Whether the late Apple co-
founder ever actually said it
or not, the statement caught
my attention  If you want
to make people happy, don't
be a leader. Sell ice cream.
_________________________

"I make ice cream almost every night, and I place complete confidence in the consistent quality of my creations." It's a bold statement, to be sure — but for 23-year-old Jesse Tanner Long developing unique ice cream recipes and then producing a world-class product is his life passion. "Eating ice cream is obviously great," he adds. "But making it is where my heart truly lies." 


A man on a mission, Long has spent considerable time over the last year or so criss-crossing the country — from the snowy mountains of Boulder to the sunny shores of Cocoa Beach to the clangorous streets of Baltimore and beyond — spreading his "Ice Cream Gospel" to new "believers" everywhere. "I am all about 'connecting,'" says Long. "It really all boils down to simply scooping smiles."


While working at an ice cream store in Colorado, Long recalls showing up on his days off to experiment with creating new flavors. "I've written a multitude of (well-guarded) recipes," he states confidently. "I've tested each one time and time again — fine-tuning little aspects along the way."


Long's distinctive, drop-dead-delicious product line has been gaining attention from not only his growing legion of disciples, but also from various "suits" within the ice cream industry. The only two questions really remaining at this point are — In which major city will Long decide to settle? And who's going to make him the sweetest "big league" offer?

"I'm not trying to be better than anyone else in the ice cream game. 'Better' is too subjective," Long concludes. "I intend to be different  to offer folks something more than merely a sweet treat."

-Christopher Long
(September 2017)

_________________________

CONTACT
JESSE TANNER LONG

Twitter and Instagram
@freezerp
__________

email
_________________________



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is available NOW on Amazon.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

MY COUNTRY: Discover "Best Of" Episodes from My Classic Country Radio Show — NOW on YouTube!

MY COUNTRY
Discover "Best Of" Episodes
from My Classic Country Radio
Show — NOW on YouTube!
___________________________

Since I was a kid, growing up in
the Midwest, I've had a burning
desire to be in radio. And in 2016,
the dream finally became a reality.
___________________________

Celebrating all things classic country, my weekly Internet radio show, MY COUNTRY, launched in 2016. Together with my fabulous co-host, Miss May, and our teenage production assistant, Vance, we had such a blast producing the show — a program that ran through early 2017.

While currently on hiatus, fans now are discovering the show's various "Best Of" episodes that I've been posting on YouTube. 

MY COUNTRY production assistant, Vance, doing
a little pre-show prep with co-host, Miss May.
So, if you missed out on the fun the first time around, or if you just want to relive the experience, I invite you to check us out by following the links below. And feel free to become one of the show's YouTube subscribers!

Vol. 1 - "Country NOT Country" Edition
Vol. 2 - "Classic Country Concerts" Edition
Vol. 3 - "Classic Country Movies" Edition
Vol. 4 - "Classic Country Albums" Edition

More episodes COMING SOON!

-Christopher Long
(September 2017)

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is available NOW on Amazon.

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Thursday, September 14, 2017

MOVIE REVIEW: Home Again

MOVIE REVIEW
Home Again
Black Bicycle Entertainment
(Running Time: 97 Minutes)
_________________________

Wow, a super-fun flick
can endorse  fully!
_________________________

In her directorial debut, Hallie Meyers-Shyer delivers a doozie, as Home Again is an absolute start-to-finish delight — a colorful, well-written story that's smart, funny and brought to life beautifully by a talented and delicious-looking cast. 

Pico Alexander as Harry and Reese Witherspoon as Alice
Reese Witherspoon stars as Alice Kinney — an attractive and recently-separated 40-year-old mother of two adorable, pre-tween daughters. Upon relocating from NYC to LA, Alice connects by chance with three young and hunky Hollywood hopefuls. Persuaded by her mother, Lillian, played by veteran actress, Candice Bergen, Alice soon invites the three 20-somethings to move into her guest house. The story then gains traction quickly — oozing gobs of fun and plenty of romantic tension. 

Eden Grace Redfield, Michael Sheen and Reese Witherspoon
Given how trash content is currently considered king, Home Again offers moviegoers a breath of fresh air. A uniquely engaging film focusing on relationships among family and friends, it takes the less-traveled high road — boasting ZERO adult language, only a dab of implied innuendo, and just a brief splash of slapstick-style violence. In sum, believe the hype  Home Again is THE must-see, feel-good of 2017! 

-Christopher Long
(September 2017)

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is available NOW on Amazon.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

SURVIVING IRMA: A Time to be Kind!

SURVIVING IRMA
A Time to be Kind!
_________________________

Just days after celebrating the
long Labor Day weekend, lives
across the "Sunshine State" have
been "disrupted"  once again. 
_________________________

"WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!" My teenage compadre's proclamation was passionate and pure as we stood helplessly on the driveway at 10pm — rain whipping across our faces while observing the quickly-rising water levels that threatened to swallow-up our newly-adopted Palm Bay residence.

Then came the calm after the storm. The nighttime mugginess still clinging to the barely-born morning was perfectly normal for this time of year. The once-ominous river had somehow dissipated miraculously. And the streets — now eerily quiet. In fact, the distinctive sound of a lone generator humming in the distance was practically the only indication of the mighty force that tore through Florida just hours earlier. However, in the light of day, the full damage — the destruction and (sadly) the death toll caused by Hurricane Irma would be undeniable.

My family had relocated to Orlando from Springfield, Missouri back in 1975. For a 12-year-old kid, the notion of moving to a "tropical paradise" was appealing, indeed. And the thought of ever enduring a devastating storm never even entered my mind — until Hurricane David blew through Florida in 1979. But the damage caused by David was minimal. In fact, my only related memory is that of my dad chopping up and hauling out a destroyed tree from the backyard.

My personal hurricane survival bag contained
a VERY few of my most prized possessions.
However, as an adult, living through and dealing with catastrophic storms has become an increasingly all too common occurrence — from Hurricane Andrew that ripped through south Florida in '92 to Hurricane Floyd in '99 to the series of THREE major storms that battered my hometown in ONE single week during 2004. Truth be told, the unique fragrances of wet drywall, mold and mildew now are forever affixed to my nasal membranes.

Yet through all the heartbreaking devastation, the human spirit continues to prove stronger than any storm. Yeah, of course there's always that guy — "Mr. D. Bag"  thoughtless, impatient and selfish. But far more often than not, times like these tend to bring out the best in us — neighbors helping neighbors, strangers helping strangers. And as I dug out from under the most recent rubble, I was once again moved by the spirit of people coming together and rising above circumstances.

The damages I've been dealt personally this time around are minimal, compared to what others are dealing with. Although my power now has been restored, both cellular and cyber communications are still proving to be frustrating challenges. But I want folks to know, I'm here, and available. If you have a need, please feel free to reach out to me personally. At this time, email is my most effective means of communication. I also welcome readers to post their own hurricane-related stories and experiences in the "Comments" section, below.

AuthorChristopherLong@yahoo.com

-Christopher Long
(September 2017)

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Friday, September 8, 2017

CONCERT REVIEW: Green Day (9.3.17)

Photos: Jen Cray @ JenCray.com
CONCERT REVIEW
Green Day
Coral Sky Amphitheater
West Palm Beach, Florida
(9.3.17)
_________________________

After discovering a menagerie
of exciting new bands on the
recent 2017 Vans Warped Tour,
it was fun to get out and revisit
an old time classic rock act.
_________________________

It was a bona fide barn burner — 20,000 strong — faithful fans of all ages, jammed like sardines into what I believe is (this week) known as The Coral Sky Amphitheater. And as the chart-busting headliner hit the steamy stage at 8pm, a pungent fragrance of ripe, sweaty ass mixed with the alluring aroma of mid-grade dope permeated the famed South Florida outdoor concert venue. Rock and roll!

What separates Green Day from the host of post-grunge era clowns who choked is, they have songs — timeless, catchy, hit songs  and LOTS of 'em. Hence, tonight's event proved to be a spectacular, high-energy, Simmons-caliber production.

Mike Dirnt
Pastor / frontman / songwriter, Billie Joe Armstrong, began preaching from his pulpit posthaste. In a true-blue, ultra-pretentious, Springsteen-style fashion, the 45-year-old pop / rock poster boy demanded the attention of his adoring fans. "I know you paid a lot of money for these tickets," he conceded. "But you don't get to sit down. So get your asses up!" Armstrong's pontificating continued ad nauseam — ultimately distracting from the musical experience. And after enduring just the first hour of his enlightening perspectives, it became unclear with whom he was even arguing. Of course, you're "for" love and vehemently against racism, sexism and homophobia. Duh! Isn't (almost) everybody?

Billie Joe Armstrong
Preachiness aside, the Green Day "bang for the buck" factor was impressive, indeed. The spectacular-looking walls of sparkling white flames rolling down the back of the gigantic stage further enhanced the effect of red-hot flash pods and other ear-splitting pyrotechnics that were detonated throughout the show. The two-hour set also provided a career-spanning cavalcade-o-hits — one brimming with all the suspected signature staples, as well as deep cuts from the band's pre-corporate Kerplunk era and a fistful of fan faves from the acclaimed 2016 Revolution Radio record. A surprise highlight was the Vegas-style classic rock medley that included sing-along snippets from The Beatles and The Stones

In sum, the Green Day concert oozed undeniable "WOW" factor. Rock star bassist Mike Dirnt and superhero drummer Tré Cool were both amazing, while sidemen Jason White (lead guitar), Jeff Matika (rhythm guitar) and Jason Freese (keyboards, sax) all performed masterfully — adding enormous additional value and completing a rock solid combo. #BangForTheBuck

-Christopher Long
(September 2017)

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is available NOW on Amazon.

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