A reverse musical trend

There is a growing trend across the nation as nostalgic practices continue to rise in popularity. This trend has been particularly evident through the resurgence of the vinyl record.

“We have seen customers, especially younger ones, moving back in time over the last five to ten years,” record store owner Mike Matthews said. “They want older music and still want vinyl and cassettes. Our business has hit highs that we did not see coming. Our business tactics are not much different than they were 30 years ago. It has been a great time as the old is coming back. Rock on!”

“The Guardian” found that vinyl record sales hit a 25-year high last year, while digital formatting has dropped in the last few years. 2016 was the first year in the 21st century in which vinyl sales outperformed digital downloads.

Sony Music Entertainment recently announced that they will begin pressing vinyl records following a 28-year break. This announcement came following an increased demand and success among competitors such as Columbia and 20th Century Fox.

Several explanations have been offered regarding the rise in popularity among older artists and the connection with rises in vinyl record sales. A primary reason for vinyl record sales surpassing digital downloads is the fact that a vinyl record is tangible.

“Vinyl is better than digital because you physically hold the music in your hand,” record collector Josh Hagen said. “I have records that have been around since the 1960s and 1970s, it’s just mind blowing to me whenever I pick those records up that this plastic disk is older than I am.”

Amazon has seen a rise in vinyl sales with the “AutoRip” option for customers purchasing music. With most compact disc and vinyl record sales, Amazon’s “AutoRip” option offers the digital download in addition to the tangible formats. Along with promoting vinyl collecting, it has assisted inventory cleaning for the internet giant.

Another interesting association with the vinyl record is the record turntable. Available in several themes and structures, the turntable is gradually returning to its former glory.

“I started collecting vinyl because I was interested in how turntables worked,” Hagen said.

Established in 2003, Ion has found success with their various turntable options. From Ford Mustang themed turntables to traditional suitcase-style carry cases. Ion has heavily invested in the vinyl record resurgence.

Appealing to younger individuals, Ion recently introduced the Bluetooth speaker turntable. This product has been a positive addition as the distinguishable sound of the vinyl record meets wireless technology. These turntables are available at affordable rates, further promoting the vinyl movement.

Digital conversion is an option with most modern turntables. The opportunity to turn a vinyl record into a digital format has helped the hobby expand as listeners can experience both listening styles.

“The sound off of the needle is incredible,” lifelong music follower Dick Hagen said. “Vinyl records are timeless.”

Historically speaking, the ushering of vinyl records is symbolic in multiple ways. In the 1980s, the compact disc hit the music scene, becoming the most sought musical format. With a small size and fair sound quality, the compact disc took over, essentially replacing the vinyl record. Following the introduction of digital downloads, compact disc sales dropped dramatically. Some automobile manufacturers have even halted compact disc stereo installation. Today, vinyl records are making their way back to the top over the compact disc.

As the digital community continues to dwindle, the vinyl record community is welcoming new collectors at monthly events like the Keystone Record Collectors music expo. Free to the public, this event takes place on the first Sunday of every month at the Continental Inn on Route 30.

With yearly events such as Record Store Day each April, the vinyl record is back to stay. How far will vinyl records go this time around?

Located throughout Lancaster County, these businesses will help build any record collection!
Located throughout Lancaster County, these businesses will help build any record collection!

IT vs. IT

An infographic talking about some of the differences and actors and costume.
An infographic talking about some of the differences and actors and costume.

“You’ll float too, you’ll float too,” Iconic words that follow the main characters in the ‘It’ movies. Many people have grown up with the 1990s version of ‘It’, where Pennywise was being played by Tim Curry. The iconic phrase is not the only thing that follows through to the remake. The 2017 version of Pennywise, being played by Bill Skarsgard, hardly resembles Curry’s version, but they both follow the relatively same storyline. The Loser Club, on the other hand does not resemble the 1990 versions in the slightest.

The first major difference that many people noticed was the makeup and costume job of Pennywise. Curry’s Pennywise resembled a typical 90s circus clown, with the crazy outward hair, looking like he stuck his finger in a lighting circuit. He also wore a big, baggy multi-colored clown jumpsuit, and he had big red fluff balls on the front of him. His makeup was simplistic and resembled a actual carnie clown. He also wore a fake red clown nose.

Skarsgard’s version resembled more of a Victorian era clown, with a hue of different white puffy clothing, a big white collar. The only color he had on him was the three red balls on his front. His makeup was a bit more sinister, the painted red nose, the red streaks through his eyes that traveled to the corner of his lips, and his cracking bulbous skull. His hair was more contained and combed back, showing more of his creepy head. The similarities are the red puff balls on the front and the bulbous heads and big clown feet.

Many debate whether or not the plot differences were  significant. I think the biggest differences between the two plots are what Pennywise appears as to each member of the Loser Club. 1990, IT appears as The Mummy, The Wolfman and The Creature From the Black Lagoon. Creatures from classic movies. 2017, Bill Denbrough sees Pennywise as Georgie, Mike Hanlon sees his parents burning, Beverley Marsh sees her abusive father and blood spewing from a sink, Ben Hansom see dead children form a past explosion during his research. Richie Tozier doesn’t see anything, Eddie Kaspbrak sees an oozing leper, Stan Uris sees a creepy painting come to life in his father’s study.

The last but most noticeable difference is that the 1990 Loser Club looks nothing like the 2017 loser club. Many people get accustomed to a particular aspect of a movie and it is how the actors look. Many people discredit a movie if the actors look nothing like past actors or from the book. In Curry’s version, Denbrough was depicted as a blond, medium height kid with a stutter. Tozier was displayed as a ginger with short hair, just as tall as Denbrough and freckles, he wore glasses with a piece of tape on the bridge. Kaspbrak was a short child with brown hair with shaved sides, he is the shortest member in the group. Uris was a black, curly hair child, the tallest in the group. Hanlon was the only black kid in the group, his likeness was the only one with some similarities to the 2017 version. Marsh was a brown haired girl with long hair, she seemed more of a girly girl type, and she was the only girl in the group. Last but not least, Hanscom was a chubby white boy with short blondish, brown hair.

In the remake Denbrough is a tall, skinny, dark brown haired freckled child, the tallest member. Tozier is a short kid with semi curly black hair, with big glasses that were without a piece of tape in between them. Kaspbrak is a short black, straight haired boy, who is the shortest in the group. Uris is a tall, blonde, curly haired child. Marsh was a tall, curly red headed girl with a tomboy vibe. She goes with short hair for the majority of the movie. Lastly Hanscom has brown medium length hair, chubby and one of the shortest members.

Even though there are differences between them, and similarities. Many people prefer one or the other. In my opinion I like the remake, because it has more updated effects, a more sinister look to Pennywise and the choice of actors was different but it worked out very well.

‘This Is Us’ reaching new heights

The series, ‘This Is Us’, follows three siblings, nicknamed the big three, and their individual lifestyles. The main characters are the father, Jack Pearson, the mother, Rebecca Pearson, and their three children Kevin, Kate and Randall. The show shifts back and forth between the past and present. The scenes from the past take place in Pittsburgh and the scenes from the present take place mainly in Los Angeles and New York.

wetowninfographic

The premiere begins with Jack and Rebecca Pearson’s premature birth of their triplets. As Rebecca goes through the experience of childbirth she ends up losing one of her three babies. The obstetrician who assisted Rebecca with the birth sat down with Jack and said, “Sometimes life is about taking the sourest lemon life has to offer and to make it into something that resembles lemonade.” This is the most touching scene throughout the episode because the doctor has to calm down Jack twice to allow him to process the information about the complications during the birth. The show then takes an unexpected twist as a newborn, who was dropped off at a firehouse, was brought to the hospital that same day. Jack became so inspired by the doctor’s advice that he decided to adopt the orphan newborn. Rebecca was still processing the loss of one of her children, that she did not agree with Jack’s decision, but with a little inspiration from Jack she finally agrees. The episode transitions to present-day and shows different scenes of the siblings lives. They just celebrated their 36 birthday and are all trying to overcome personal struggles in their lives.

        One of the twins, Kevin, lives in Los Angeles and works as an actor. He realizes that he is at a dead end in his career and has a mental breakdown on the set of his hit television show called, ‘The Manny.’ He wants to catch his big break as an actor, but feels stuck.

Kate also lives in Los Angeles operating as her twin brother Kevin’s assistant. Kate has struggled with her weight her entire life and is going to group therapy to help better her poor self-image. In the midst of her struggle, she meets the man of her dreams.

The adopted newborn, Randall, lives in New York City with his wife and children as a weather trader. He always felt like the odd man out in his family because he was adopted. In this episode he finally meets his biological father. He is angry at first, but then accepts his father as he is sick. He then invites his father to live with him.

The characters are all imperfectly perfect and very different from one another. Every aspect of this show is important as the events in the show are very relatable to real-life. When I first heard about, ‘This Is Us’, I was a wary as I am about every television show I watch. I am happy I listened to the reviews because this show is like no other modern show. I would highly recommend it to anyone who can handle an emotional roller coaster because it will have your feelings all over the place. The way it strings together their childhood and adult life is amazing. At first you don’t grasp the idea that it’s all intertwined, but then the episode ends and you realize that the episodes timeline fits together so perfectly.  

The premiere of, ‘This Is Us’, is full of many twists and turns that will produce many unexpected tears. One downside to the show is that it’s only available on Hulu, but that didn’t stop it from becoming the most watched television trailer on Facebook and 2016 fall’s number one new show.

 

Xenoblade Chronicles: Masterpiece?

If you are a video game fan, you probably know about “Xenoblade Chronicles 2” coming out this December. This game is a direct sequel to the first one, but what warranted this sequel in the first place?

The original “Xenoblade Chronicles,” which was almost never released in North America, has been revered as one of the best games ever created. If you were to find any flaws with it, they would be merely nitpicking. What makes this game stand out is its lack of flaws. Everything works together like a well oiled machine. However, if one part of that machine were to break, the whole thing would come crashing down.

Xenoblade Reviews

“Xenoblade”, as I’ll call it from here forward, is considered by many to be a masterpiece, the absolute best of what gaming has to offer. It’s a JRPG, meaning Japanese RPG, which comes with certain design conventions such as dialogue options, exploration and a semi-open world, at least. “Xenoblade” took all these concepts and ran with them. There are as many as 480 quests in-game. For reference, Skyrim had 450 quests at the most. The main idea of the story starts out as a revenge story on the main enemy, the Mechon. However, it is impossible to summarize the incredible story without ruining it, or me running out of space, so play it for yourself or watch a playthrough.

There’s a lot of quests, they are probably all generic, right? Most of these quests have deep meanings to them, and one could easily draw parallels to their own life. One of my favorites, without spoiling too much, involves you breaking up a drug-trading ring. Most of the game’s side-quests are lighthearted to detract from the game’s heavy story; which is also perfectly done. “Xenoblade” has a few plot twists, you might be lucky to see one coming.

“Xenoblade” covers topics in its story that some other games cover, such as racism, being shunned by others, and losing loved ones. “Xenoblade” also incorporates the ideas of creationism, atheism and evolution, through both story and gameplay mechanics. My absolute favorite line from any video game, TV show or movie goes to Shulk, the main character. At the end of the game when asked how he wants to move forward with the world, he says, “I don’t know what the future holds. But that means I can imagine the possibilities. We can achieve anything we put our minds to.” “Xenoblade’s” story revolves around seeing the future and changing the outcome. In a battle, if you were to get a “vision” you would see a dangerous attack coming and be able to react to it before it kills you or your party.

The game also has what I would describe as a perfectly huge world. “Xenoblade” encourages exploration by levelling your characters up and making movement around areas faster. The world is massive, but it is not intimidatingly huge. It should not take you an hour to run from one place to the next, but it will because you stopped at everything along the way.

The music in “Xenoblade” is probably some of the best music I have ever heard. To any non-gamers, this might sound strange, but gamers love video game music; and “Xenoblade Chronicles” does not slouch at all in this department. I enjoyed every single song I heard in this game. They all fit their areas well; nothing dragged, nothing was repetitive and I remember all of them. I could name any song from the game by heart if you played one for me. My three personal favorites are the songs “Mechonis Field,” “Zanza the Divine” and the song that plays before the credits, “Beyond the Sky”. Each of these songs are beautiful, and I recommend a listen to anyone who has not heard them.

I simply cannot cover everything this game does well, but the gameplay is also amazing. The player controls a party of three out of the seven characters, and can mix, match and customize the party however they want. They are not required to have specific characters in their party like other games in the same genre do. This is one of my favorite decisions, because the characters are also fantastic. They all have so much depth, and interactions you would miss if you only played with a specific party the whole game. Certain voice lines would never be heard, and certain combos would never be found.

Conclusively, I cannot find many faults with the original “Xenoblade Chronicles” worth talking about. Other games may have higher “highs” than “Xenoblade” when compared, but its strength lies in its consistency. There is not a part of this game that I dislike, but there’s plenty of parts in other games that I like that I despise. In my first 120 hour experience with this game, I was tearing up at the final cutscene; partially because it was over, and partially because it was the best thing I ever experienced. My best advice is to play it for yourself. I don’t need to see the future to know you’ll love this game.

Bad Moms Christmas

Bad Moms Christmas inspired poster.
Bad Moms Christmas inspired poster.

Christmas just came early. Bad Moms Christmas is hilarious and entertaining. Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, and Kathryn Hahn are back for this holiday movie, which is just as dirty as the first. The cast is joined by Christine Baranski, Cheryl Hines, and Susan Sarandon as the mothers to the bad moms. Unlike the first movie, this movie shows the struggle of making Christmas perfect for the mothers’ children and the conflict between mother and daughter.

Each of the mothers embodied a stereotypical mother. Amy (Kunis) is the laid-back mother. Kiki (Bell) only takes care of her kids and not herself. Carla (Hahn) is a free-spirited mother. Amy’s mother, Ruth (Baranski), is the critical mother and expects her daughter to be perfect. Kiki’s mother, Sandy (Hines), does not like to be separated from her daughter and wants to know everything about her life. Carla’s mother, Isis (Sarandon), is just like her, free-spirited.

Amy and Ruth always butted heads with each other. At times, viewers feel bad for Amy for having her mother trying to take over Christmas when her kids just want a laid-back holiday. Throughout the movie, these two fight constantly. They fight over a Christmas tree and many more. It felt like Ruth was not listening to Amy. It was like she only cared about her reputation and no one else.

Viewers can tell that Kiki and Sandy were very similar, but that might be because Sandy wanted to be just like her daughter. Some of the funny moments they had together were at therapy. Kiki wanted to tell her mother that it is not okay to interrupt her marriage, buy a house next door, and to dress just like her. Hines was hilarious as Sandy. She made excuses that she had these “deadly” diseases like cancer and strep throat just to keep her daughter from trying to get rid of her.

Carla and Isis are very similar as mothers. They are both rebels and free-spirited. They took groceries from shoppers amongst other things. They always joked about giving terrible gifts for Christmas by regifting items instead of buying new ones. There was some underlying tension there though. Viewers could tell that Carla loved her mother and did not want to give in to her when she asked for money. Isis was not a caring mother to her. The development of their relationship made them somewhat relatable.

All three relationships had growth. In the beginning, people could tell each mother-daughter issues that needed to be addressed. By the end of the film, they loved each other. Also, the mothers became friends with each other. They wanted to help each other with their relationships and to help their children understand their struggles.

This movie was not short of funny moments. The main mothers were just as funny as they were in the first movie. Some of the funny scenes were when they got drunk at the mall and stole a Christmas tree from Foot Locker, Sky Zone with all three families, and Dancing Santa’s.

This movie is a woman’s movie. Some of the humor is tended toward women. The main characters are women nonetheless. Men in the theater did not get some of the humor and thought it was not funny as the first. Children should not see this movie as well, it is rated R. The adult humor is not appropriate for young children. I would say this is one of the funniest Christmas movies I have seen. I would recommend this movie, for all the girls nights in. If you are a woman hanging out with your girlfriends, I would defiantly recommend watching Bad Moms Christmas.

Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania Citizen Journalism