Sunday, June 30, 2019

THE VINYL DIMENSION - Pt. 1 (Aerosmith - "Toys in the Attic" / Chicago - "Chicago X)

Aerosmith - Toys in the Attic
Chicago - Chicago X

I'd been duped for decades by
the delusion of digital audio
supremacy. But I've now re-
entered the vinyl dimension.
I'll spare you the tedious details.
Be sure, LPs do sound better
than CDs and today's popular
streaming options  especially
records created back during the
glorious analog era. Through
this recent period of incredible
rediscovery, I've come across a
couple of albums in particular
that prove my point perfectly.

Toys in the Attic
Release Date: April 8, 1975
Label: Columbia
Producer: Jack Douglas

There are few raunchier examples of sheer vinyl splendor than early Aerosmith records — especially Toys in the Attic — a record that sadly is emasculated shamefully in the digital format. In fact, even a scratchy LP copy of this superb slab possesses the ability to blister your backside 'til ya beg for mercy, or beg for more — depending on your personal penchant.

From the gritty riffage of the opening title track to the passionate, piano-driven record-ending ballad, "You See Me Crying" to the iconic classic rock radio staples, "Walk This Way" and "Sweet Emotion" and all infected points in between, you can feel the physical presence of Joe Perry and Brad Whitford — slashing away with heart-stopping urgency, as if their Marshall stacks are placed strategically between your hi-fi unit and living room sofa — right next to your resin-coated coffee table.

She just loves my big 12 inch record of her favorite blues.
Additionally, (on vinyl) the listener can (almost) feel the gentle spray of Steven Tyler’s era-accepted, libido-drenched spittle as he seemingly reaches through the speakers — grasping for a stray bottle of desperately-needed penicillin. If that ain’t “real” enough, listen closely, and you just might even hear Tom Hamilton in the background, hocking up a loogie, as his fat, round bass lines wash across your faded, denim-clad soul. As for Joey Kramer, his powerful, funk-flavored, R&B-inspired, single-kick drum work remains a magnificent blueprint for how rock music is (still) meant to be played.

Chicago X
Release Date: June 14, 1976
Label: Columbia
Producer: James William Guercio

Arguably the biggest rock act on the planet at the time, Chicago was flying high with an impressive string of five consecutive #1 albums and a slew of chart-busting singles when Chicago X arrived in stores. The music sounded fresh — fatter and funkier than the band's previous efforts, with a subtle pop bouquet. Truth be told, the record was so hot, 43 years after its release, it still feels physically warm to the touch. Especially on vinyl.

Digital versions of the album sound squashed and thin. Specifically, guitarist Terry Kath's down and dirty vocals on the opening track, "Once or Twice" get practically buried under the compressed layers of multi music tracks. However, on vinyl, Kath's signature-style vocals are crystal clear — jumping out in front of the mighty Chicago horn section — saxophonist Walt Parazaider, trombonist Jimmy Pankow and Lee Loughnane on trumpet. The same can be said for the R&B-flavored Pankow-penned romp, "Skin Tight" — featuring a lively lead vocal from bassist Peter Cetera. Even keyboard / vocalist Robert Lamm's light and bubbly "Another Rainy Day in New York City" sounds noticeably more savage on the LP. And then there's renown drummer, Danny Seraphine, whose delicious, precision master chops deserve to be served only on a wax platter.

Chicago X — the complete vinyl experience!
On CD, the band's first-ever #1 single, "If You Leave Me Now" certainly sounds pleasant. But, holy crap, on vinyl, producer James William Guercio's pristine acoustic guitar work pops with perfection. Cetera's gorgeous lead vocal is pure magic, while the late Jimmie Haskell's lush string and French horn orchestration drips from the grooves.

Connecting personally with an artist and their music in the vinyl format is an experience that the digital format simply can't replicate. From the feel of the record to the smell of the cover to the look of the liner notes and the eye-catching artwork to the rich and beautiful authentic crackle-pop of the needle gliding across the grooves, vinyl represents a uniquely organic and personal experience. And I look forward to revisiting other classic LPs in the weeks and months to come.

-Christopher Long
(June 2019)



C'MON! -

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

AUTHOR MEET-n-GREET (Thanks, Palm Bay!)

Thanks, Palm Bay!

It's the aspect of the author experience
I enjoy most — connecting with readers
one-on-one. Hosted by Siggy's, located in
Palm Bay FL, the Summer Author Expo
happened on June 22. And it was a huge
success. I was honored to have appeared
along with fellow authors Violet Favero,
Joanne Fisher and Shellie Blum. Here
are a few pics from the super-fun event.

Shellie Blum, me, Siggy's owner Amy Sigafoos,
Joanne Fisher and Violet Favero
Connecting with readers of all ages
at the recent Author Expo.
I went totally fanboy when I met author Shellie Blum. Her
heart-stopping memoir, Waterski Girl Wonder, is a must-read.
Thanks to everybody who came out and
made the Author Expo such a success.



C'MON! -

Monday, June 17, 2019

MOVIE REVIEW: "Ma" (2019)

2019 R | 1 hr 39 min
(Blumhouse Universal Pictures)

With so many "big" movies
kicking off this summer's
season at the tail end of
May, it's taking me a
little while to see them all.

Directed by Tate Taylor, Ma is a bona fide edge-of-your seat thriller. Yet, despite it's impressive award-winning cast and heart-stopping storyline, the film coulda and shoulda delivered more bang for the buck.

Academy Award-winner, Octavia Spencer, crushes convincingly as Sue Ann "Ma" Ellington, a seemingly lonely middle-aged veterinary assistant who befriends several local teens in her small town by offering her home basement as a safe haven in which to party. Fresh-faced relative newcomer, Diana Silvers, owns her role beautifully as Maggie Thompson, the "new girl" at school who falls in fast with the other attractive, gullible kids who are enticed quickly to frequent Ma's teen-targeted "speakeasy." Oh, if it only all really was that innocent. 

The premise of the film feels strained and awkward almost immediately. Even much of the dialog seems creepy and less than plausible. However, the non-stop tension often is sufficient to leave viewers hooked and reeled in. As Ma's painful personal teenage backstory is revealed, we're offered disturbing glimpses into what exactly is motivating her now to commit such despicable deeds. Hmm, a diabolical high school reunion. Okay, I'll play along.

Look out, Maggie — here comes Ma!
(And she ain't too happy.)
Ma misses a major golden opportunity to shine by portraying Maggie's mom, Erica Thompson, (played by Juliette Lewis) as somewhat pedestrian. Lewis is endeared to audiences everywhere for playing strong, "unhinged" characters. The moment she walks onto the screen you naturally expect her character to shake things up. But not here. Instead of blazing in like "psycho mom" and saving the day, Erica merely provides background noise to the chaotic narrative. 

It also can be argued that there could have been value in revealing more of Dr. Brooks, Ma's bitchy boss at the animal clinic. Played by acclaimed actress, Allison Janney, Dr. Brooks is relegated to the story's "cheap seats," yet she meets a disturbing demise — without viewers receiving the benefit of the screen time devoted to the film's other grizzly physical conflicts.

In sum, despite some missteps, Ma is an adequate thriller — offering an impressive cast and plenty of shock factor. 3/5

-Christopher Long
(June 2019)



C'MON! -

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! -