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On the eve of this weekend’s Record Store Day, where hundreds of thousands of music fans turn out to purchase hard to find and collectible vinyl, I’m reminded of how I got started on my own record collection and the records that mean the most to me. As I sit here typing this while listening to a copy of Night Ranger’s debut album “Dawn Patrol,” I think back to when it all began for me.
I remember as a kid one of my earliest childhood memories was my dad teaching me how to turn over records and set the arm to his turntable that we had in our family living room. We used to live off the Tippecanoe River, and my dad liked to sit out on the patio in the summertime and relax and listen to his records. He had a set of speakers he mounted to the siding of our house and when the record stopped he’d call into the house by my full name, “Christopher!” So I had to get up and change the record over. My dad especially loved the first Dire Straits album, Pink Floyd’s “Meddle,” and Yes’ “Fragile.” Those are some of my earliest memories I have with vinyl records.
There is just something about vinyl that makes it so cool. I would have to say that for me, it’s the primal nature of it. When you take the record out of the sleeve, place it down on the turntable and put the needle down on the record it feels like something coming alive. The music and sounds seem to come out at you from the speakers. This is something that in the time of digital downloads we have lost a little bit of. You don’t really feel the intimacy of listening to a record anymore and also having it in your hands and looking at the artwork and reading the record notes.
From about the time I turned 14, my musical interests took on a life of their own. By that time I was playing guitar and was enthralled by the music of Van Halen. I remember one of the first vinyl records I ever purchased was Van Halen’s “Diver Down” at a second hand store for a $1.50. It was by no means a classic record of theirs, but it kick-started my obsession with collecting my favorite bands records. I was obsessed with getting my favorite band’s records but only if they were the original ones and not the reissues.
Some of the original copies on vinyl that I am glad to own are The Beatles Sgt. Peppers, AC/DC Back in Black. Every original copy of Led Zeppelin’s albums, and Metallica’s first record, “Kill ‘Em All,” originally released on John Zazula’s independent Megaforce Records label. This is just a small selection of great vinyl I own, and whenever I can get the chance I still am look for vinyl that catches my eye. For those of you who haven’t gone to a Record Store Day, you owe it to yourselves to check it out. Maybe you’ll find something that turns you on to a style of music or a way of listening to it that you never had before.
On March 25, the 2018 Formula One season kicked off with their opening race in Melbourne, Australia at the Albert Park circuit. There was a packed crowd that literally saw a replay finish of last years season opener. This year has to be seen as the drive for title number five between the top two contenders for this year’s crown, with defending champion Lewis Hamilton driving for Mercedes, who won his fourth title at the end of the season last year. And four time champion Sebastian Vettel driving for Ferrari hopes to win his fifth championship.
The off season was notable for a couple of significant changes to the cars themselves. This year will mark the first year of the controversial Halo protection device mounted around the drivers cockpit. The Halo was specifically designed to protect the driver’s head from pieces of flying bodywork. The device has been met with much criticism from drivers and fans. The most notable of the outspoken drivers was Lewis Hamilton, who called the introduction of the Halo as, “the end of an era of F1 cars looking good.”
The other notable change this season is that for the whole season all teams will only be able to use three power units. Christian Horner, the team principal of Red Bull Racing slammed the new regulation calling the decision “nuts” to be expected of all F1 teams to run on a regulation of three engines over a 21 race season. “It would be horrible to see a championship decided on engine penalties,” Horner further went on to explain.
The season started off with a tremendous qualifying battle between Hamilton and Vettel, and Vettel’s teammate 2007 world champion, Kimi Raikkonen. Hamilton set the all time lap record at the end of qualifying with a lap of 1.22.185, to claim pole position. Raikkonen was second fastest with a time that was six tenths of a second slower than Hamilton’s. Vettel was third, while the Red Bull of Max Verstappen started from fourth on the grid.
The surprise of the day was American Haas team led Kevin Magnussen, who qualified 5th while his teammate Romain Grosjean was 6th behind him. The Renault of Nico Hulkenberg was also a surprise in seventh, out qualifying Aussie hometown hero Daniel Ricciardo in the second Red Bull in eighth. Hulkenberg’s team mate Carlos Sainz was 9th while Fernando Alonso in the new McLaren-Renault was 10th. It was looking like the decision by McLaren to drop Honda and partner with Renault was paying dividends. As the newly badged Toro Rosso Honda team was well down the order in 16th and 20th respectively. Lewis Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas would have some work to do as he would be starting 15th because of a wreck in qualifying and then taking a five place grid penalty to replace his gear box as a result of the accident.
The race got underway in a squeaky clean fashion with Hamilton leading while Raikkonen was nipping at his heels trying to make a pass into turn three. Hamilton fended off the Ferrari threat, while Max Verstappen was passed by the two Haas cars who made life hard for the Red Bull driver, especially when Verstappen lost control of his car under braking into the first corner trying to pass Magnussen on lap 10. He regained control of his car and was knocked down to eighth position after his spin.
The battle between the top 3 drivers was a little stagnant until lap 19 when Raikkonen in second pitted first for Ferrari. This allowed Vettel to move up to second place, while Raikkonen rejoined the race in third. Hamilton then pitted on lap 20 moving Vettel into the lead, while Hamilton rejoined second. On Lap 23 the Haas of Magnussen pitted, but tragedy struck when a crew member’s air gun failed to put the tire back on properly resulting in a suspension failure putting Magnussen out of the race. Then on the next pitstop of the Haas team the same problem struck Romain Grosjean who’s wheel fell off resulting in a virtual safety car yellow flag.
During this yellow flag, Vettel pitted and came out in front of Hamilton to resume the race lead. As a result of the yellow flag rules Hamilton had to slow his speed, as he was not allowed to pass Vettel as he was coming out of the pits under yellow flag rules. This is what ultimately turned the tide into Vettel and Ferrari’s favor, as Vettel was able to keep the lead after the yellow flag, and hold off the threat of Hamilton’s Mercedes. Raikkonen came out the loser in this race, simply by virtue of out qualifying his team mate. Who decided to pit first, as Ferrari’s team orders dictated whoever qualified above the other has preferential treatment. The other surprise finish was that of Fernando Alonso who managed to finish 5th in front of the Red Bull of Max Verstappen. It was Alonso’s highest finish for McLaren and the double world champion was all smiles after the race.
Lewis Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas, who started 15th could not ultimately fight his way to the top of the grid. He managed to reach tenth place and gain one point for himself and the Mercedes team. Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff was pleased with his team’s results but was unhappy with the outcome of the race being decided by a yellow flag technicality.
The Ferrari team was pleased with their qualifying and race pace during the grand prix. Sebastian Vettel did admit over the radio to the team
So it was Vettel who managed a repeat of last year’s race by beating Lewis Hamilton to victory. Vettel will take the first 25 points of the season, and the points lead to the Bahrain Grand Prix which will take place April 8, 2018. If you want to watch TV coverage either set your DVRs or get up in the morning because coverage will begin at 11 a.m. Sunday morning on ESPN 2.
On March 16, the newest adaptation of the “Tomb Raider” story was released in theaters, and although the fast-paced action sequences were exciting to watch, the movie itself falls a little short of living up to the two video games published by Square Enix: the self titled reboot of the “Tomb Raider” saga released in 2013, and the “Rise of The Tomb Raider” that was released in 2015.
The movie stars Alicia Vikander in the main role as Lara Croft. Dominic West is cast as Lara’s father Richard Croft, and Walton Goggins stars as the film’s main protagonist Mathias Vogel. Although Vikander has shown that she is a very capable actress in her previous films, and was also named in Forbes’ best 30 actors under 30 list. The direction and the story does not really allow Vikander to really show her talents as an actress. There are times you get the feeling watching the film that with the movie’s plot, that maybe someone else would be better suited to be cast in this role.
The plot itself is loosely based around the 2013 game, with a couple of major changes to the story. These changes are where the movie loses a bit of intrigue. It seemed that MGM studios wanted to make a story that was similar to the earlier “Tomb Raider” movies that fans remembered with Angelina Jolie. If MGM would have stuck with the original plot that Square Enix had written for the 2013 game, and had done a true adaptation to it, the movie would have been a better success.
The movie runs just a little bit short of 2 hours. In those two hours, the film is filled with heart racing action scenes that seem to want to take up the whole of the movie. The action scenes are good, but leave little for character development. That is somewhat lacking when it comes to telling this story as an “origins” one. The film leaves little development to the main character. You want to find out the details of Lara’s life. Also when she is out in the wilderness trying to survive, you want to see the evolution of her character to the one she ultimately will become by movie’s end.
“Tomb Raider” ends on a cliff hanger, and it is very possible that we will see more movies in the future. Hopefully with a little bit better writing and direction the films can live up to a standard that fans of the series will come to love. For now, the movie series has gotten off to an alright start. But, improvements can definitely be made for future releases.
L.A. Guns came to The Vogue on February 28th, and blew away the audience with a mix of classic songs and newer ones that kept their audience enthralled and entertained throughout the night.
The band wrapped up their Missing Peace world tour with a final stop at the Vogue and put a stamp on their reputation as one of the best live acts of the ‘80s metal genre.
For those that may need a little backstory, L.A. Guns released their first album in 1988, after lead guitarist Tracii Guns left the original Guns N Roses band that he helped found along with Axl Rose. If you make the connection, he was the original GUNS in Guns N Roses. The classic line up of the band features the singer Phil Lewis who reunited with Tracii Guns in 2016.
Tracii Guns took a long hiatus from the group in 2002, while Lewis continued on without him. The new L.A. Guns consists of Lewis on vocals. Tracii Guns on lead guitar. Michael Grant on rhythm guitar. Bassist Johnny Martin, and Shane Fitzgibbon on drums.
The self titled first album L.A. Guns, and their follow up Cocked and Loaded, are fantastic albums and anyone who is a fan of ‘80s metal should definitely go and check them out. Also, if you’re looking for a current release from the band, their newest album The Missing Peace just released last year, and has gotten rave reviews from fans and critics alike.
The show itself was really entertaining as the setlist comprised of the most well known songs from their first couple albums such as Electric Gypsy, No Mercy, Never Enough, The Ballad of Jayne and Rip and Tear. They also featured newer songs such as “The Devil Made Me Do It”, which opened the set. Also the track “Speed” from their newest release featured a great solo from Tracii Guns in the middle.
Tracii and the rest of the group played a really tight show, and the whole group played flawlessly throughout the night. Lewis and Guns interacted with each other trading smiles back and forth throughout the night, and you could tell that they genuinely seemed to love playing with each other again.
The best moments of the night though, were watching Tracii Guns. He was the guy that everyone came to see, and he unfortunately doesn’t get the credit he deserves as one of the best guitar players of the ‘80s metal genre.
One guitar player that has quite a cult following, and also played guitar in Guns N Roses is also coming to The Vogue. Buckethead will make an appearance at the venue come April 27. Buckethead played on the latest Guns N Roses release, Chinese Democracy. Tickets are priced at 25 dollars and can be purchased at The Vogue’s online website.
On Sunday Feb. 18th, the 60th running of the Daytona 500 will kick off the Nascar season. Some of the older, established veterans have left the sport to retire the last couple of seasons. This season should be the year that younger drivers hope to establish themselves as contenders for race wins and maybe a Nascar Championship.
One of these new contenders is the pole sitter, Alex Bowman. Bowman, who is 24, was born in Tucson, Arizona. He started his career at the age of 7. By the time he was 13, he had already won 9 USAC championships and won 165 races. He had previously filled in as an interim driver for Dale Earnhardt Jr. when he missed most of the 2016 season with concussion problems. He scored his first pole position that season in Phoenix and t finished 6th, his highest career finish. Bowman was promoted to a full time driver this season in the number 88 car for Hendrick Motorsports, previously driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr. Earnhardt retired at the end of 2017 and took an analyst position with NBC in July when Nascar switches its TV coverage from Fox.
The 2016 Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin will start 2nd behind Bowman for the start of this year’s race. The 37 year old veteran has driven for Joe Gibbs racing his entire career and has won 31 races. Last season he finished 6th in the championship and had two wins. Although he has had some success in the series and is one of the most recognizable in the sport, a championship has still eluded him. A strong start with a win at Daytona could go a long way in paving a way for this season’s championship.
Starting 3rd and 4th are the winners of the two qualifying duels held on Thursday, which set the rest of the starting field for Sunday’s race. Ryan Blaney, who is in his first year driving for Team Penske, won the first 60 lap duel to start 3rd, and Chase Elliott won the second duel and will start 4th. Blaney is transitioning from Wood Brothers Racing, where he scored his first win at Pocono last season. He also capped off last season with ten top ten finishes. Chase Elliott, is in his 3rd full time Nascar season, showed great promise last season with 9 top ten finishes and finished 5th at the end of last season. He is also the son of legendary Nascar driver Bill Elliott, who won the 1985 and 1987 Daytona 500 races.
Last season’s champion, Martin Truex Jr., will start 24th. Veterans Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch will start 6th and 11th, respectively. Following accidents in the duel were two time series champion Brad Keselowski will start 31st, and seven time champion Jimmie Johnson will start 35th.
This year’s race will be a wide open event with many drivers contending for the race win. It will be an interesting one to see how the younger drivers will fare at the front of the field and how the veterans can rebound from their accidents in the duel and battle their way to the front of the pack. The race will start this Sunday at 2:30 P.M. and will be broadcast on Fox.
On Thursday night, the IUPUI Jaguars snapped their 5-game losing streak at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum. They beat Cleveland State University 78-73 to move to 5-8 in the Horizon League this year. What looked like a runaway victory for the Jags in the second half ended up being a close game in the final minutes.
Both teams came out firing as IUPUI and Cleveland State both took chances from 3 point range. But, it was the hard work in the paint by the Jags that made the difference in this game. IUPUI had 42 points in the paint to Cleveland State’s 32.
Late in the second half with 11 minutes left, Cleveland State came back from a 20 point deficit to within two in the final seconds of the game. Luckily, with some clutch free throw shooting, the Jags were able to pull out the victory in the end.
TJ Henderson played great. He went 5-7 from the field and hit all nine of his free throws to lead the team in scoring with 19. Aaron Brennan went 7-9 from the field and was the team’s second highest scorer with 17. The Jags shot 59 percent from the field throughout the entire game.
This coming Saturday at the Coliseum at 1, the Jags will host Youngstown State, who are 8th in the Horizon League. The Jags hope that last night’s victory can propel them this Saturday against Youngstown State in front of their home fans.
It has been 17 years since the XFL last played a game, but come 2020, Vince McMahon, the owner of World Wrestling Entertainment, will unveil the start of the XFL once again. The announcement was made on Jan. 25, where McMahon announced that the league would kick-off in January or February of
McMahon announced that the league will start off with a ten week schedule that consists of 8 teams. These teams are yet to be announced, but McMahon did state that he wanted the teams to reside where the NFL had markets in. The expected names of the teams and their locations will be made official in 2019.
Also, in his announcement he stated that the new league would forbid any player from making a political statement on the field during games. When it comes to the XFL draft, any player that has a criminal record will not be considered to play in the league.
Many people are wondering why now after so many years and the “colossal failure” as McMahon has stated the previous XFL was, to unveil a new brand of XFL football. But, with the success of the ESPN 30 For 30 documentary titled This Was the XFL, a new interest was peaked for the old league. It is also hard to deny although McMahon will not state it, that with the current dip in NFL ratings this past year, maybe a new look at professional football could succeed.
It would have to depend on a certain number of things to occur, and it seems that McMahon is open to try a couple different tweaks to the way pro football is played. Namely one of them would be to keep the entire game time down to less than two hours, as opposed to the normal three hour game. It is uncertain how this would be done, but with the time that McMahon has to figure out his new league, an idea can surely be made.
That is also another good strategy that undoubtedly hurt the last run of the league, and that is the time to prepare. When the XFL was last announced in March of 2000, the kick-off to the league’s first game was in February of 2001. With the league not planning to start until 2020, more time is made for rules, where teams will play, and also the kind of players that will eventually play on the field. Who knows, maybe at the start of 2019 a top college athlete could be persuaded to play for a team in the new league. Much like what happened with Herschel Walker did in 1983 when he decided to play for the New Jersey Generals of the United States Football League. If something like this could happen it would gain serious interest and solidify the XFL.
One thing though is for certain. And it bears in mind pointing out, that whatever McMahon does with this new league, he needs to stay away from the gimmickry that plagued the old XFL. From the scantily clad cheerleaders to the name personalization on the back of the jersey. The new XFL needs to stay away from this as much as possible if it even has the slightest chance of success. McMahon himself, has stated that much would need to change from what happened prior in the old league, and this no doubt is one.
The type of play too, will be a key factor in making the XFL a success. Any new league experiences teething issues in their first year. The XFL in 2001 was full of sloppy play and bloopers of all sorts. It will be a tough challenge to present a new league that is exciting to watch and doesn’t come off as second rate in the eyes of fans watching.
Previously, the old XFL was a split partnership with NBC and McMahon. Now the XFL is all McMahon’s, and that brings to the question of where on television will we see the games? That much is still in the works as at the time of this writing an announcement has not been named for a television deal. In his launch announcement, McMahon has cited interest in streaming the game live on a number of platforms, but nothing for certain has been made yet.
It seems as if McMahon wants his legacy as an entrepreneur to have that final stamp on it by having a pro football league that is a success. He has pretty much done everything that there is in the world of pro wrestling, and McMahon has never taken to failure kindly. He has never fully given up on the dream of having his own football league, and now it appears that it could be another possibility.
It is true that McMahon would have to do a many number of things to make the league a threat to the NFL. But, given the time that he has to come up with a new look on pro football anything is possible. What kind of XFL will fans see in 2020? Nothing is certain, but it could all be new and exciting to watch.
On Jan. 27, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra performed two classical symphonies by two legendary composers. The first was Des Knaben Wunderhorn by Gustav Mahler, and the second was Beethoven’s 6th symphony, most commonly known as the “Pastoral.”
The show started with a performance of Gustav Mahler’s “Des Knaben Wunderhorn.” This was a series of German folk poems that Mahler was a fan of and composed his symphony around. There were 12 songs in this symphony, composed around 1892 to 1893, performed by a soprano and baritone vocalist. The instrumentation for the orchestra consisted of two flutes, two oboes, 2 clarinets, two bassoons, four horns, two trumpets, timpani percussion, harp, strings and a solo voice. Also, all the song’s lyrics were sung in German, so the venue provided audience members with a booklet containing the lyrics and the English translation.
The two vocalists for this performance were Thomas Hampson, the baritone vocalist, and Kelley O’Connor who was the soprano vocalist. Hampson, born in Elkhart, IN in 1955, has sung in over 80 operatic roles including Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Ambroise Thomas’ Hamlet. He has sung on over 170 albums, some of them winning Grammy Awards. Hampson has also been honored in the Metropolitan Opera Guild as a Met Mastersinger and has also been inducted in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and Gramophone’s Hall of Fame.
Kelley O’Connor, the soprano vocalist has enjoyed a great career as a singer and has garnered international attention for her voice. She originally debuted with the Atlanta Symphony in 2002 and sang on a Deutsche Grammophon recording Ainadamar which won a Grammy in 2003.
The orchestras this evening were conducted by Krzysztof Urbanski who is a who was born in Poland in 1982. Since Sept. of 2011 he has conducted symphonies for the ISO, and it looks like he is going to stay around a few more years in Indianapolis since the ISO has since renewed Urbanski’s contract with them. Urbanski studied at the Fryderyk Chopin University in Warsaw, Poland. It is also entertaining when you watch him up there with the symphony. He really gets engaged in the music and really interacts with the musicians up there on stage. It is cool to see someone even in classical music get involved and really enjoy the music they are making for a live audience.
Both vocalists were extremely good on this night and they did a great job with the vocals to these pieces. Since all of these songs were in German, this cannot have been an easy thing to do to sing in this dialect for the whole night. The both of them too enjoyed performing these songs as well, and you could really tell their enthusiasm for performing them for a live audience.
The music for Wunderhorn is reminiscent of a really good movie soundtrack that would have dealt with a man that goes off to war and leaves the woman he loves behind at home. The lyrics to these songs often dealt with war, and love and the pain of both experiences. Some of the pieces in the music had soft melodies when it came to the songs from the woman’s point of view which O’Connor sang. The more intense dramatic music came when Hampson was singing his parts which mostly dealt with battles and war. The best performance was the piece called “Reveille” which was sung by Hampson. It dealt with the struggle of battle and what a person faces during that. It was a very dramatic piece with many different tempo changes in the song that shifted from quiet but still powerful, to loud and bombastic music. This was without question Hampson’s best vocal performance of the night.
After this performance was finished of Wunderhorn, the symphony then began to play Beethoven’s “Pastoral” after a 20-minute intermission. The circumstances surrounding this symphony and the music that followed it put context to the entire piece.
From what has been known about Beethoven at this time, which is around 1807, is that he was in the more advanced stages of deafness. This caused him endless bouts of anger, pain, and agitation. The only thing that really helped him to alleviate this stress was by taking long walks in the countryside. Beethoven loved nature, and the inspiration for the music in this symphony came from the walks that he took and what he experienced personally on them. The pieces in this symphony are have names to them as well to give this feeling of nature such as, “Awakening of Cheerful Feelings on Arriving in the Country,” “Scene by the Brook,” “Merry Assembly of Country Folk,” “Thunderstorm,” and “Shepherd’s Song.”
The performance was about 40-minutes in length, and the ISO did an awesome job in performing these pieces and really giving this symphony the treatment it deserves. It was really impressive with how the symphony played the 3rd to 5th movements, because they do not have a rest in between pieces. The “Thunderstorm” piece was classic Beethoven, it perfectly captured the feeling of a thunderstorm in classical music form. It was a piece that built and built on it till the end, with the tempo gradually gaining momentum until the end with the timpani drums and violins growing louder and louder imitating lightning striking, and rain falling. The symphony culminates in the piece called “The Shepherd’s Song,” which was the perfect uplifting end to the show and the symphony.
Next month, a big event will take place on Monday, Feb. 12 as legendary composer John Williams will conduct the ISO. Williams has composed the soundtracks for such classic movies like Star Wars, Superman, and Jurassic Park. Fans can purchase tickets at the ISO’s website where the show will start at 7:30 P.M.