<![CDATA[Ball State Daily RSS Feed]]> Mon, 16 Sep 2019 17:15:36 -0400 Mon, 16 Sep 2019 17:15:36 -0400 SNworks CEO 2019 The Ball State Daily <![CDATA[Ryan's ToyReview found mixing content and commercial]]> Youtube channel Ryan's Toyreviews was recently struck with a Federal Trade Commission complaint, claiming that their content was misleading children regarding any and all sponsored content.

Ryan Kaji, a seven-year-old boy, has been the star of Ryan's Toyreviews, one of the top child-centric channels on Youtube. Ryan the focus of more than five separate channels, each one operated by his parents

As of this story, Ryan has 21.5 million subscribers on his main channel and was reported to have earned $22 million. The majority of this income was made, according to Forbes, through a mixture of toy deals, sponsorships, and advertising. This number is even higher than Youtuber PewDiePie, who has nearly 5 times the subscribers.

However, select groups have found an issue with Ryan's operation. Truth in Advertising, a consumer watchdog who tracks commercial usage and advocacy, filed an FTC claim against Ryan's parents, claiming that:

“Ryan ToysReview's sponsored content is presented in a manner that misleadingly blurs the distinction between advertising and organic content for its intended audience. According to the FTC, when such a blending of content occurs, 'any material connection between an endorser… and the seller of the advertised product… must be clearly and conspicuously disclosed in a manner that will be easily understood by the intended audience.'”

In this case, the audience is unable to understand what advertising is and cannot identify obvious commercials. As such, Ryan ToysReview's ads and sponsored content violate FTC law.

Ryan's videos often feature sponsored segments that were paid for by outside companies, such as Chuck E. Cheese or Hardee's.

Shion stated in an interview with the New York Times that he would abide by the protocols filed by the FTC, not challenging the complaint.

"The well-being of our viewers is always the top priority for us, and we strictly follow all platforms' terms of service and all existing laws and regulations, including advertising disclosure requirements," Shion said.

This practice regarding FTC regulations is hardly new. The government agencyhas been investigating matters of fair and unfair use of representations of toys since 1980, after a series of incidents were filed regarding certain toys' inability to fulfill the functions that were broadcast on television. These include acts like toy helicopters flying without being held, or a horse doll's ability to stand up, even as the original toy is unable to perform that same act.

This filing came about after Youtube as a company settled a recent finefrom the FTC for $170 million. Said lawsuit occurred due to recent breaches of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA for short. This filing will require Youtube to no longer collect the information on children under 12 years of age. This occurs predominantly through targeted ads.

This filing is already having a significant effect on family and child-centric Youtubers, with several networks and creators removing select ads, disabling comments and other such endeavors.

Sources: Forbes, Truth in Advertising, New York Times, FTC, Verge,

Image: Youtube

<![CDATA[Clear and sunny skies continue]]>

Today: Today, temperatures will be in the mid 80's with the high for the day being 85 degrees. Going into tonight, there will be partly cloudy skies, and temperatures will drop to about 63 degrees.

Tuesday: The high for the day will be about 81 degrees, with mostly sunny skies. Going into Tuesday night, skies will remain clear, and temperatures will drop to the low 60's, with the low for the day being 60 degrees.

7-Day Forecast: For the remainder of the week, temperatures will remain in the mid 80's. We will continue to see mostly clear and sunny skies. Temperatures could get as low as 62 degrees, but things will stay pretty dry for most of the week, as there is a 20 percent chance for showers and thunderstorms.

-- Weather Forecaster Morgan Taylor

Follow us on Twitter @NLIWeather for breaking weather updates.

NewsLink Indiana is a proud Ambassador for the NOAA Weather-Ready Nation program.

For more information about the Weather-Ready Nation program please click HERE

<![CDATA[Ball State program to offer blood pressure, cholesterol testing]]> With September being National Cholesterol Education Month, one Ball State program is offering medical testing open to the public.

Ball State's clinical exercise physiology program will hold a blood pressure and cholesterol screening 6-8 a.m. Thursday, at the Human Performance Lab, according to an email from Ball State's Marketing and Communications.

The test will include measures of high-density lipoprotein, low-density lipoprotein, triglycerides, blood glucose and indicators of liver and kidney function, the email states.

People wishing to be tested must fast for 10 to 12 hours prior to the test and are encouraged to drink water only before arriving for the tests, it states. The test costs $20 and results will be sent to participants within five business days.

Becky Collins, administrative coordinator of the clinical exercise physiology graduate program, said the event is open to everyone who wishes to be tested.

Collins said they will hold another round of tests sometime in February 2020.

<![CDATA[Blake's Beats: Why I'm regretfully excited about the NFL season]]>

Blake Williamson is a senior journalism major who writes "Blake's Beats" for The Daily News. His views do not necessarily agree with those of the newspaper. Write to Blake at bdwilliamson@bsu.edu.

Sundays used to be a holy day. The living room was my church, and I prayed with conviction to the altar of National Football League.

I would stroll into the old RCA Dome with my grandfather, knowing nothing else other than I was happy if the team with blue horseshoes on their helmets won, and I was so unreasonably sad if they lost.

I was blissfully ignorant to the carnage happening in front of me, and behind the scenes too.

Part of me wishes I could go back to then, before my brain had the ability to recognize the truly evil corporation that is the NFL, an entity that makes its bread off of an assembly line of human bodies.

I thought I was watching something '"pure."

All of these players I looked up to, they were happy to be out on that field, because the NFL did a good job at convincing a younger me they even remotely cared about the money signs that trotted out every Sunday, Monday, Thursday and sometimes Saturday.

As I grew older, I started to become more aware of what I was taking in, and the lines started to get blurred. Even though I was fully aware of how problematic this league was and is, I still tuned in every game day to have the violence spoon-fed to me.

Knowing what I know now, though, why can't it be enough for me to change the channel? The issue with NFL viewership is these players are seen as commodities, just cattle in the yard. Not real people, but animals that entertain us.

I have witnessed the NFL actively silence player's voices, entirely blackball a player who stood up for something he believed in - *cough cough* Colin Kaepernick - and attest that they have their players best interests in heart. Even as countless lawsuits from former players with diagnosed brain injuries flood their offices, Commissioner Roger Goodell sits in his lush corporate office in New York, counting checks.

None of this matters to him or the corporation, though, as long as they know there are junkies out there like me who will continue to tune in every week, despite how dirty it makes us feel.

Within the confines of the game, many not-so dirty little secrets lie. According to an investigation in 2017, 99 percent of former players studied were found with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in their brains. Not only that, but suicides of former players like Junior Seau, whose brain was later found to have CTE, and the controversial case of Jovan Belcher who shot himself at the Kansas City Chiefs training facility after shooting his girlfriend in their home, have more people asking questions about the mental health of these players we watch like zoo animals.

Parts of the brain affected by CTE:

When the NFL is going to do something proactive instead of reactive?

My hope is that the average NFL fan just becomes aware of the addictive nature of this game, and that we have productive conversations with each other people. Imagine if you had thousands of drunk people showing up at your job yelling at you because you didn't change the toner correctly in the copying machine. That's what Sundays are for NFL players. They're just playing a game, but too many times the fans place all of their emotions into these players, these people.

There is nothing wrong with being a football fan, but there is something wrong with being blind to the product that you're consuming.

I'm ashamed to admit that I'm excited for the NFL season. There aren't any local chapters of "NFL Fans Anonymous" that I can go to, no 12 steps to follow on the path to recovery. I like to think I'm going to try to wean myself off of it, but I know that I'll be sitting on my couch, like the rest of America, playing right into the owner's grubby hands every time a game comes on.

You win again Mr. Goodell.

<![CDATA[Mark your calendars for the next Red Cross blood drive]]>

Why is donating blood so important?

Here are some of the top reasons:

Someone in the U.S. needs blood every 2 seconds.

1 in 7 people who enter the hospital will need blood.

Blood is necessary for the treatment of accident victims, cancer patients, hemophiliacs, and surgery patients.

Blood and blood products can not be manufactured.

Only 37 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to give blood. Less than 10 percent of those who can donate do.

Donating Blood is Easy!

Find your donation site. Every 2 seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood. The Alpha Kappa Psi Business Fraternity is sponsoring this month's American Red Cross Blood Drive on Monday, Sept. 30 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Pruis Hall.

Make Your Appointment. Click here and enter sponsor code "ballstate" to schedule your appointment now! All donors will receive a free admission ticket to Stillwell Manor Haunted House and a coupon by email for a free haircut at participating Sport Clips Haircut locations.

Prepare! Make sure to drink plenty of water and eat a healthy meal before your donation appointment.

Register. Sign in at the blood drive. You'll need to show identification, such as a driver's license.

Get a Mini Physical. You will be asked to review medical questions in a private and confidential interview. Red Cross staff will take your pulse, blood pressure, temperature, and hemoglobin levels.

Donate. Awhole blood donationtakes about 8-10 minutes, during which you'll be seated comfortably or lying down.

Relax. After donating, you will enjoy snacks and refreshments and rest for about 10-15 minutes. Afterward, you can continue with your day knowing that you made and difference and saved a life!

The American Red Cross would like to thank Ball State's Alpha Kappa Psi chapter for hosting this month's blood drive. For more information about the blood donation process, visit the American Red Cross' website.

As with all advertising, sponsored content does not necessarily reflect the views and choices of the employees of Unified Media. Unified Media will ensure the treatment and design of advertising and sponsor content is clearly differentiated from its editorial content. Unified Media reserves the right to refuse publication of such content that, in its own judgment, would undermine the intellectual integrity, authority, and character of our enterprise. Consistent with the foregoing General Advertising Guidelines, Unified Media may reject or remove any sponsored content at any time that contains false, deceptive, misleading, or illegal content; is inconsistent with or may tend to bring disparagement, harm to reputation, or other damage to Unified Media's brand.

<![CDATA[No Deal: Auto workers strike against GM in contract dispute]]> By TOM KRISHER and MIKE HOUSEHOLDER

DETROIT (AP) - More than 49,000 members of the United Auto Workers walked off General Motors factory floors or set up picket lines early Monday as contract talks with the company deteriorated into a strike.

Workers shut down 33 manufacturing plants in nine states across the U.S., as well as 22 parts distribution warehouses.

It wasn't clear how long the walkout would last, with the union saying GM has budged little in months of talks while GM said it made substantial offers including higher wages and factory investments.

It's the first national strike by the union since a two-day walkout in 2007 that had little impact on the company.

GM workers joined striking Aramark-employed janitors assigned to GM facilities on the picket lines Sunday night at a sprawling factory on the border between Detroit and the small town of Hamtramck.

Worker Patty Thomas said she wasn't scheduled to picket, but came out to support her colleagues at the car plant, which GM wants to close.

She's heard talk that GM may keep the factory open and start building electric pickup trucks there, but she's skeptical.

"What are they going to take away?" she asked. "That's the big issue."

She said workers gave up cost-of-living pay raises to help GM get through bankruptcy, and workers want some of that back now that the company is making profits.

Striking GM employees were joined on the picket lines by workers from Ford and Fiat Chrysler, who are working under contract extensions.

Night shift workers at an aluminum castings factory in Bedford, Indiana, that makes transmission casings and other parts shut off their machines and headed for the exits, said Dave Green, a worker who transferred from the now-shuttered GM small-car factory in Lordstown, Ohio.

Green, a former local union president, said he agrees with the strike over wages, plant closures and other issues.

"If we don't fight now, when are we going to fight?" he asked. "This is not about us. It's about the future."

UAW Vice President Terry Dittes, the union's top GM negotiator, said a strike is the union's last resort but is needed because both sides are far apart in negotiating a new four-year contract. The union, he said Saturday, does not take a strike lightly.

"We clearly understand the hardship that it may cause," he said. "We are standing up for fair wages, we are standing up for affordable quality health care, we are standing up for our share of the profits."

GM, however, said it offered pay raises and $7 billion worth of U.S. factory investments resulting in 5,400 new positions, a minority of which would be filled by existing employees. GM would not give a precise number. The company also said it offered higher profit sharing, "nationally leading" health benefits and an $8,000 payment to each worker upon ratification.

Because public statements from both sides conflict, it's hard to tell how long the strike will last, said Kristin Dziczek, vice president of labor and industry at the Center for Automotive Research, an industry think tank. The length "depends on how far apart they really are and where the lines in the sand are drawn," she said.

Talks were scheduled to resume at 10 a.m. EDT on Monday.

The union's contract with GM expired Saturday night, but pacts with the company's crosstown rivals, Ford and Fiat Chrysler, were extended indefinitely. The union has picked GM as its target company this year, and any deal it negotiates will be used as a template for the others. GM was picked because it's the most profitable of the three, and because its plans to close four U.S. factories have angered union members.

On Sunday, about 200 plant-level leaders voted unanimously to strike against GM if no deal could be reached by Sunday night. Although talks were halted over the weekend, UAW spokesman Brian Rothenberg said there was still dialogue.

Before the talks broke off, GM offered to build a new all-electric pickup truck at a factory in Detroit that is slated to close next year, according to a person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. The person wasn't authorized to disclose details of the negotiations.

The automaker also offered to open an electric vehicle battery plant in Lordstown, Ohio, where it has a huge factory that has already stopped making cars and will be closed. The new factory would be in addition to a proposal to make electric vehicles for a company called Workhorse, the person said.

It's unclear how many workers the two plants would employ. The closures, especially of the Ohio plant, have become issues in the 2020 presidential campaign. President Donald Trump has consistently criticized the company and demanded that Lordstown be reopened.

Rothenberg said UAW was striking for fair wages, affordable health care, profit sharing, job security and a path to permanent employment for temporary workers.

GM has factories in Michigan, Ohio, New York, Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas, Missouri, Indiana and Kansas.

A strike would bring to a halt GM's U.S. vehicle and parts production, and would likely stop the company from making vehicles in Canada and Mexico as well. That would mean fewer vehicles for consumers to choose from on dealer lots, and it would make it impossible to build specially ordered cars and trucks.

Analysts at Cox Automotive said GM has enough vehicles on dealer lots to last about 77 days at the current sales pace. That's well above the industry average of 61. But supplies of the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban large SUVs, which generate big money for the company, are well below the industry average.

The talks this year have been overshadowed by a growing federal corruption probe that snared a top union official on Thursday. Vance Pearson, head of a regional office based near St. Louis, was charged in an alleged scheme to embezzle union money and spend cash on premium booze, golf clubs, cigars and swanky stays in California. It's the same region that UAW President Gary Jones led before taking the union's top office last year. Jones himself has been touched by the investigation, leading some union members to call for him to step down, but he hasn't been charged.

This year's talks between the union and GM were tense from the start, largely because of GM's plan to close four U.S. factories, including the one on the Detroit border with the enclave of Hamtramck, as well as Lordstown and factories in Warren, Michigan, and near Baltimore.

Here are the main areas of disagreement:

- GM is making big money, $8 billion last year alone, and workers want a bigger slice. The union wants annual pay raises to guard against an economic downturn, but the company wants to pay lump sums tied to earnings. Automakers don't want higher fixed costs.

- The union also wants new products for the four factories slated to close. GM currently has too much U.S. factory capacity, especially to build slower-selling cars.

- The companies want to close the labor cost gap with workers at plants run by foreign automakers. GM pays $63 per hour in wages and benefits compared with $50 at the foreign-owned factories. GM's gap is the largest at $13 per hour, according to figures from the Center for Automotive Research.

- Union members have great health insurance plans and workers pay about 4% of the cost. Employees at large firms nationwide pay about 34%, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Automakers would like to cut costs.

United Auto Workers members picket outside the General Motors Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant in Hamtramck, Mich., early Monday, Sept. 16, 2019. Roughly 49,000 workers at General Motors plants in the U.S. planned to strike just before midnight Sunday, but talks between the UAW and the automaker will resume. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

<![CDATA[Silvertree Communities]]> Silvertree Communities features two and three-bedroom apartments and townhomes near Ball State University. Our spacious apartments can be priced by the bedroom or by the entire apartment, and include washer and dryer, private patios and balconies, spacious walk-in closets, as well as premium upgraded units.

At Silvertree, you have access to great community amenities and you're just around the corner from tons of shopping and dining options. Residents enjoy a 24-hour fitness center, heated pool, BBQ grills, awesome resident events, free tanning, on-site MITS bus line stop, sand volleyball court and so much more!

What residents are saying!

"Silvertree is great! The staff is so nice and welcoming! They knew my name by the second time I went into the office. They are always respectful and do their best to answer any questions. I've worked with the leasing manager when needed and she's been awesome as well. They always have promotions going on and resident events. My dog won pet of month and they gave him a basket full of goodies. Those little things like that really show they care! Maintenance so quick to fix problems, big or small. You can tell that everyone here cares. It's a great place to live!"

Stop in for tour - we'd love to meet you! Visit our website at silvertreecommunities.com.

<![CDATA[Missed opportunities prove difference in Cardinals loss to UMass Lowell]]> In the Cardinals second game of a five game road trip, Ball State Field Hockey (2-4, 0-0 MAC) lost to UMass Lowell (2-3, 0-0 AEC), 2-1.

The game was a defensive battle as the Cardinals recorded 15 saves and allowed two goals on 21 River Hawk shots. The offense struggled early on to score and the defense allowed an early goal.

"We controlled the game but right now for us, it is just the finishing," head coach Stephanie Bernthal said. "On defense, it is just some little things here and there and then on the attacking side of the ball, great opportunities but just missing a little bit."

Redshirt senior Michelle Shampton connected on a cross from junior Audrey Tabor to tie the game up at the 4:05 mark of the fourth quarter. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, the River Hawks' Sofie Knook scored her second goal of the game in the 58th minute.

"It was a very competitive back and forth game," Bernthal said. "We did a great job of keeping control of the momentum. There were just a couple of plays such as two corners that they ended up getting the ball to trickle in on. We had an awesome cross ball through traffic after we maintained pressure."

Bernthal had high praise for her forwards and midfielders who put together a solid effort.

"The midfielders had a great day of getting to the ball and intercepting it after the forwards put pressure in the backfield," Bernthal said. "The middle of the field had a really good day. I think Jenna McKune and Angel Nkosi had a really good game both offensively and defensively."

While the Cardinals came up short, they believe that they can hang with some of the top teams in the nation.

"It is exciting because all of these games have come down to crucial moments where the other team is just capitalizing," Bernthal said "I know the competitiveness of our team will rise to the talent. These girls are warriors. They are battling every play but it is just the little things that need to be fixed."

Contact Ian Hansen with any comments at imhansen@bsu.edu or on Twitter @ianh_2.

<![CDATA[Offensive struggles continue for Ball State Soccer in loss to Florida Gulf Coast]]> For its second consecutive game, Ball State Soccer (5-2, 0-0 MAC) could not find the back of the net. The Cardinals were shut out 2-0 Sunday by Florida Gulf Coast (3-3, 0-0 ASUN) to end their season-opening road trip at a record of 1-2.

In the loss, the Cardinals were shut out for the first time in back-to-back games since 3-0 and 1-0 losses against Bowling Green and Kent State on Sept. 23 and Sept. 28, 2018.

Head coach Josh Rife said he saw many similarities between Sunday's game and Friday's against Florida Atlantic, including an improved second half despite the loss.

"We had opportunities to get chances," Rife said. "I thought we finished the game as well as we could."

Senior midfielder/forward Marjorie Boilesen opened the scoring for the Eagles at 30:36 into the first half. The Eagles outshot the Cardinals 8-1 in the first half.

Early in the second half, graduate student goalkeeper Tristen Stuteville received a red card. Boilesen would then notch her second of the game on a free kick against sophomore goalkeeper Alex Deruvo, who made her season debut and played the rest of the game.

"It was unfortunate to take the red card," Rife said. "Tristen kind of got caught. There was not a lot of argument about the call and what happened."

While the Cardinals outshot the Eagles 5-2 in the final 45 minutes, it was not enough to spark a comeback. Ball State hurt its chances of gaining momentum, drawing 10 fouls received during the game.

"We gotta go back, look at ourselves, and find ways we can start a little better," Rife said. "Both games, we kind of got behind a little early, which is always tough in any environment. I thought as the game went on, we kind of grew into it and get our legs going."

Heading back to Muncie for a three-game homestand, Rife hopes the comforts of Briner Sports Complex will ultimately help the Cardinals regain their winning ways. Combined with this season and the 2018 season, the Cardinals continue to hold an eight-game win streak at home.

"Hopefully we have the right mentality," Rife said. "There is a whole lot of season left to play. [This weekend] sucked, but it's not going to define our season."

Ball State will be back in action Friday vs. Purdue Fort Wayne at 5 p.m. in its final non-conference tilt of 2019.

Contact Connor Smith with any comments a cnsmith@bsu.edu or on Twitter @cnsmithbsu.

Senior Defender Yela Ziswiler kicks the ball during the second half of the game Thursday, Aug. 28, 2019 at Briner Sports Complex. Ball State Woman's soccer team defeated Illinois State University 1-0. Rebecca Slezak, DN

<![CDATA[Jordan Williams has day of firsts in loss to Florida Atlantic]]> When Jordan Williams woke up Saturday, he didn't expect to have a game he'd never forget. He was just excited to play football.

The redshirt sophomore linebacker not only provided his first career sack, he scooped his first career fumble recovery for a 60-yard touchdown - the first for the Cardinals in five seasons.

"I felt like I was Caleb Huntley," Williams said. "Just breaking a long run and running free - I felt like a running back at the moment."

Fellow linebacker Jacob White, who finished the day with 17 tackles, had high praise for Williams.

"We have preached scoring a defensive touchdown for a while now, and to see him do that and go down the sideline was definitely something special," White said. "He is a positive kid and someone we turn to when things go good or bad, so his positivity is something we feed off of."

The very next defensive play, Williams recovered another fumble, which led to another Ball State touchdown.

Positivity and hard work throughout practice was something head coach Mike Neu emphasized when describing Williams' performance.

"I think he has grown every week," Neu said. "I thought his athleticism was on display today when he recovered that fumble in the open field. His confidence is growing every week, and when we talk after every game, he is always positive and he is trending in the upward direction, and that is what you want for someone who works so hard."

Confidence is another word thrown around in the Cardinals' locker room and something Williams said keeps the team glued together.

"It just makes me feel like I fit in this defense because everybody is a confident player," Williams said. "It is nice to vibe off of all the other players because everyone knows their job and does their job, and I like being with them and doing that with them as well."

Williams' career day started with a sack, which is something he said he has always wanted to accomplish.

"I have been wanting a sack for a long time because that is definitely something on my list of things I have wanted to do," William said. "When I got that, I was so excited because I talk about wanting to get one all day every day."

The sack and both fumble recoveries all came in the first quarter, and he was just a step too late of picking up a third early in the second half as a Florida Atlantic fumble rolled out of bounds.

Williams' play helped Ball State jump out to a 14-7 lead in the first quarter, but the Cardinals ultimately fell to the Owls, 41-31.

Contact Ian Hansen with any comments at imhansen@bsu.edu or on Twitter @ianh_2.

Ball State Football runs out of the tunnel before the game against Florida Atlantic at Scheumann Stadium Sept. 14, 2019. Ball State lost to FAU, 41-31. Jacob Musselman, DN

<![CDATA[Cardinals drop final 2 matches of Northern Kentucky Tournament]]> Ball State (4-5, 0-0 MAC) went into the weekend at 3-3 on the season looking to leave Highland Heights, Kentucky, with an above .500 record. The Cardinals were off to a good start Friday, defeating Northern Kentucky in five sets, but they were unable to reach their goal after a pair of losses Saturday against Cincinnati and Notre Dame.

After dropping the first two sets to the Norse, the Cardinals were looking to get out to a faster start versus the Bearcats. They did just that, winning sets one and two, 25-23 and 26-24, respectively. Ball State took advantage of 17 first half errors by the Bearcats even though Cincinnati had 10 more kills. The rest of the game saw the momentum swing across the net in Cincinnati's favor.

The Bearcats locked up the rest of match, winning three consecutive sets, 25-22, 25-17 and 15-11, respectively. The Cardinals' defense was constantly pressured by the Bearcats as they had eight more combined kills through the second half than the Cardinals with a 42-34 advantage. Cincinnati also had a 10 percent higher hit percentage than the Cardinals. Ball State looked to right the ship against the Fighting Irish after falling to Cincinnati, 3-2.

"They had a couple players that were just really talented and were tough for us to stop as the match went on in those later sets," head coach Kelli Miller Philips said.

Ball State was able to get out to another early lead against Notre Dame, taking set one, 25-19, but it wasn't able to find that success the rest of the way. The Fighting Irish caused problems for the Cardinals on the defensive side of the net with 13 blocks compared to eight for Ball State. Although the Cardinals had similar numbers in kills, aces and hit percentage, Notre Dame's defense was overwhelming.

"These teams were tough this weekend, but we just kept trying to attack the ball hard and play together as a team when we were out there," Hamaker said.

Ball State freshmen Natalie Risi, Natalie Mitchem and Allison Hamaker combined for 95 of 172 total kills on the weekend, coming up big for Ball State.

"The pulse of the team right now is positive," Miller Phillips said. "We were right there with those teams this weekend. I'm confident in what we are doing, and we are improving and getting better every match we are out there."

The Cardinals will look to get back on the winning side of things when they return home in the Ball State Active Ankle Challenge starting Friday at 4 p.m.

Contact Dorian Ducre with any comments at dkducre@bsu.edu or on Twitter @DucreDorian.

The IU Women's Volleyball team shakes hands with the Ball State Women's Volleyball team Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018, at Worthen Arena. IU won three sets to two. Jacob Haberstroh,DN.

<![CDATA[Travis Scott soars to the top in 'Look Mom I Can Fly' documentary]]> The new Travis Scott documentary-produced by the man himself-was a great cinematic reflection of Scott's progression as one of the most individualized and ingenious artists of our generation. The documentary highlights some of the most pivotal moments of his career and what he did to get to where he is today. Aside from minor production details that I personally would have liked to see, this new documentary did an amazing job connecting its audience to Scott's personalized story. Through clips of his shows, interviews of his fans and highlights of his day-to-day experiences, it perfectly showcases the raw talent, hard work and dedication that fuels Scott's creative vision.

A true teaching medium; as any documentary should be

This documentary is absent of any narration; it's just multiple clips pieced together with a purpose to tell a story and characterize an artist. Although the scenes weren't placed in chronological order, the film still walks you through an assortment of Scott's career feats. While doing that, it also teaches you about Scott and his character through interactions with fans, family, and whoever he works with on any of his music. Another nice touch was including what most other documentaries do; input from people he's worked with and interviews of fans talking about him. It's always nice to get that outside perspective of fans and the colleagues who feel they are connected to him through his music.

Sprinkled throughout the documentary are short home videos from when Scott-whose birth name is Jaques Bermon Webster-was growing up. This gives the viewers a small glimpse into Scott's upbringing and family life as a child. Scott was one of three producers of this film, and it's pretty obvious that much of this documentary was sewn together with his taste and vision. The inclusion of these home videos does the work of a message of gratuity from Scott to his parents. After watching many scenes of Scott's parents cheering him on and constantly expressing how proud they are, it's easy to think that those were included as a type of "thank-you" to his parents, which is very heartwarming, looking back at that concept.

Both a sad and happy tear-jerker

The emotion in this documentary didn't always stem from overwhelming happiness or amazement. My personal experience watching the scene of him losing what he wanted most at the Grammys resulted in absolute heartbreak even for me as a mere viewer. After seeing the dedication Scott put into his work, it was tough to watch his reaction to not getting the award of recognition for his album that he had poured every ounce of his heart and soul into. We all knew that he didn't win the Grammy he wanted, but my respect for him as an artist only grew when I saw how he dealt with that pain and kept working toward a bigger picture.

Something that established my respect for Scott in the first place was his dedication to his craft; it goes beyond the song-writing process. As seen in scenes before and after his shows, it's incredible how detail-orientated he is towards everything that reflects and enhances his music. He's such a strong visionary and that resonates in every part of his work, even beyond the recorded tracks. The documentary features many videos of his shows and performances, and if you've ever seen him onstage live, you know just how much energy that puts off. Scott cares just as much about the delivery of his music, especially live, as the music itself.

The downfalls; if any

This documentary tugged on every one of my heartstrings in all the right ways, but one thing I really wish I could've seen was a bit more of a come-up story or more about his childhood. This film's focal point lies mostly on Scott's album, Astroworld, and other career accomplishments that happened around that period of time in his career. Though I enjoyed this it would have been awesome to see just a little more of how he got where he is today and what he did to work his way up to the top.

This documentary did the job of what all documentaries are supposed to do; it taught us all we need to know about an artist and what makes them special. But this documentary went above and beyond its job of simply teaching us about Travis Scott. The fact that it was produced by Scott himself shows; it was tailored to his taste and vision and you could tell that's how he wanted to tell his story and invite the viewers into his world. It evoked emotion and gave us more insight to who he is as an artist and as established, branded, talented creator.

Images: IMDb

Featured Image: IMDb

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<![CDATA["IT Chapter 2" is a memory I wish I could forget]]> At the time of its original release, IT (1990) became one of the most famous adaptations of a Stephen King literary property. Though the two-part television mini-series may not have had the positive critical reception like Carrie, Stand by Me or Misery, it was memorable for a different reason. The portrayal of the titular villain, Pennywise the clown by Tim Curry, was not terrifying, but the hilarity that he weaved into every mannerism and piece of dialogue made it one of his most famous performances. The dreadful writing, subpar special effects and awful acting by the rest of the cast kept the potential of this supernatural horror trapped in the 20th century.

However, the insane laugh of Pennywise would be finally revived in the 2017 remake. The difference with IT (2017) was the noticeable change in style and tone that made the entire experience more adult and psychologically terrifying. The Andy Muschietti film delivered on this mission statement in almost every way. The impressive casting of the losers' club, frighteningly good practical effects and impeccable writing crafted a story worthy of its box office records. What nobody expected was the reveal of a sequel that would conclude the saga, expunge the scourge of Pennywise and finally bring peace to Derry.

Most disappointingly, IT Chapter 2 breaks down the incredible world built by New Line Cinema only two years ago in the slowest and most excruciating way possible. The lackluster pacing issues and over-reliance on cliche tropes, like flashbacks, inflate the runtime to abominable levels. Almost every example of practical effects has been replaced by silly and lazy cgi animation. Finally, besides maybe one or two cast members performing at their full potential, the rest of the adult actors give off a goofy portrayal that deserved to be cut from the final draft.

A story too big for clown shoes

IT (2017) stayed consistent and entertaining by accurately retelling the story of the classic novel while excluding unnecessary plot devices unfit for a major motion picture. Chapter 2 seemingly tosses those forgotten points back into the mix after their importance has already expired. The film starts off simply enough, opening in Derry 27 years later with a new victim of Pennywise found dead. This prompts Mike, the last remaining losers' club member in Derry, to call the gang back together and bring an end to the devastation. Unfortunately, the rest of the crew has seemingly forgotten the events of that fateful summer for reasons never fully explained, and must rely on redundant flashback sequences for exposition. This happens to be the most dull yet prominent drama trope used in the movie, as it ends up extending the length of the film to an ungodly three hours. For what seems to be the entire middle section of the story, the audience is caught in a loop without time to develop the characters as adults. Besides the one or two scenes that add emotional weight like Richie's or Beverly's characters, the rest are formulaic and monotonous.

But that is not the only plot detail that destroys the narrative's chance of being taken seriously. Once the crew remembers the extent of Derry's supernatural occurrences through a series of disgusting hallucinations, Mike can only convince Bill to stay and hear his explanation of where "IT" came from. After journeying to a local Native American tribe, Mike discovered that "IT" was a cosmic entity that landed in Maine millions of years ago. Since prehistoric times, it has existed as a mimic on earth, taking the form of what the surrounding population fears the most. He also finds out that the only way to defeat "IT" is to trap its celestial deadlights in a carved wooden container for eternity.

Though this may sound absolutely ridiculous, this just so happens to be the actual plot of the 1986 novel, aside from the appearance of a cosmic turtle and the questionable parts of the ritual of chud. Instead of incorporating this macroverse concept in the first movie, Chapter 2 is tasked with aimlessly explaining it in the span of a few minutes. This means that Chapter 2 has to immediately backpedal and define concepts that are never reevaluated later on. Not only that, many other questions pertaining to the history of "IT" are never fully explained. For example, why did it take the form of a 1900's dancing clown named Pennywise? Are the deadlights "IT" or does "IT" control/gain power through the deadlights? If this recurring peak in murders and disappearances happens once every 27 years, why has nobody else set out to solve the problem before now? Each of these questions might be answered in a 1,100-page novel, but it is impossible to find all the solutions in under three hours.

Effects better fit for a circus

IT (2017) was a haven for impressive practical effects from the monster creation to set design. The demons portrayed on screen were fantastic designs that set a precedent for horror films moving forward. Pennywise's new makeup and costuming instilled fear in the hearts of millions, but the performance would not have been complete without the compelling amount of emphasis on lighting and sound. While there was some use of cgi animation to better visualize different creatures, it never became a fundamental component of the movie. In the case of Chapter 2 there is an over-reliance on cgi to craft even the most simple horrors that Pennywise could conjure up. Every attempt from the small fortune cookie monstrosities to a massive razor-toothed Paul Bunyan statue feels very artificial and ridiculous. Sadly, this also reduces the caliber of genuine scares in the movie and it must instead rely on cheap jump scares that lose their weight halfway through.

Beyond the unforgivable amounts of piteous animated effects sits a surprising amount of laughable lighting issues. While the transitions from childhood to adulthood are well-edited, it is the contrast in color that truly throws the audience off. The director seems to have a complicated relationship when it comes to deciding what filter to put over the lens. One moment the losers club is walking through a deserted downtown Derry in a cool blue light, next we are shot into a sunset scene with more yellow than a field of daffodils. This heavy amount of saturation also works its way into some of the hallucinations to try and replicate a comatose sensation, but it ultimately comes off as lackadaisical.

Big names bring little depth

One of the many standout factors that gave IT (2017) such success was the incredible range of actors they got to portray the losers' club, as well as Pennywise. The delivery of dialogue between the child stars felt genuine, as if they had been real friends for much longer. Their performances also showed their maturity as entertainers while preserving the innocence their roles required. Not to mention the wonderful portrayal of Pennywise by Bill Skarsgård that brought ferocious terror, unlike Tim Curry's absurd imitation. While Chapter 2 brings some bigger names to the franchise, they ultimately deliver less substance and flavor than their child counterparts.

James McAvoy's performance as Bill is either too dry or too forceful and he never ties any emotional weight to his character until very late into the third act. For most of the film, he acts with an artificial insanity that does not feel natural to the progression of Bill's character. His internal struggle with facing the reality of his brother's death after 27 years is a great character trait, but that attribute works against him for the majority of the movie. Isaiah Mustafa as Mike presents a similar conundrum. Mike had the least developed personality out of all the characters in the first installment. Since the role of protagonist shifts more in his favor for Chapter 2, we are left with a lead we fundamentally know little about. As a result, the entire character is flawed from the beginning of the movie and Mustafa does little to help the matter other than continue Mike's dynamic of being a hermit.

There are some light spots, though. Jessica Chastain brings a necessary amount of respect and endearment to Beverly in adulthood. Also, Bill Hader actually happened to be one of the more enjoyable parts of the movie in his portrayal of adult Richie. Even though Skarsgård reprises the role of Pennywise, his knack for playing the creepy shapeshifter is not given enough space to shine, considering the shift in narrative. The rest of the cast performs decently but in the end come off as unmemorable or wooden. And in some cases, like that of older Henry Bowers, it is undeniably wacky for no apparent reason.

Images: IMDb

Featured Image: IMDb

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<![CDATA[Ball State loses turnover battle, game to Florida Atlantic]]> Ball State was down 17 with less than five minutes to play. It had to go for it on fourth-and-6. The Cardinals (1-2, 0-0 MAC) didn't make it and turned the ball over to Florida Atlantic (1-2, 0-0 CUSA). It was the Cardinals' fifth turnover of the day. Three drives and four minutes later, the Owls locked up a 41-31 victory.

"Our guys battled, but you can't turn the ball over like that no matter what football team you're playing against and expect to win," head coach Mike Neu said.

The Cardinals had opportunities, reaching the Owls' side of the field in 11 of their 16 drives. However, four of their five turnovers took place in enemy territory.

The least timely of them came a split second before a would-be touchdown. With the Cardinals down four in the third quarter, junior running back Caleb Huntley found open space in the red zone. He dove at the goal line as Owl defensemen tackled him, and the ball broke free right before he crossed the plane. Florida Atlantic recovered, and the play resulted in a touchback rather than a touchdown.

"I just had a brain fart. My brain just froze up," Huntley said. "After that play, it just hurt. Coach told me to shrug it off, and that's what I tried to do. Ultimately, I feel like had I took care of the ball on that play, the game could have had a different outcome."

The Owls took advantage of almost every opportunity the Cardinals gave them. After Ball State dropped the ball on a handoff in its second possession of the game, Florida Atlantic scored a touchdown. The Owls also found the end zone after the Cardinals' two other lost fumbles and a missed field goal.

"Every one of those moments that we had in the game were critical, whether it was a turnover or whether it was a missed opportunity. They're all critical," Neu said. "We got to finish drives. That's the No. 1 goal is to score touchdowns - not to settle for three points or anything like that, and that's something we work hard at. We got to make sure that we execute and not shoot ourselves in the foot."

The Cardinals did have their bright spots. Offensively, they still put up 31 points with 470 yards of total offense, just 28 fewer than the Owls. Defensively, redshirt sophomore linebacker Jordan Williams recovered two fumbles; he took one 60 yards for a touchdown. Ball State also only allowed one score in the fourth quarter when the team was trying to mount a comeback.

"We felt strong throughout the whole game and confident," Williams said. "Our takeaway from the game is just fixing up the little, small mistakes that just add up."

Ball State will wrap up non-conference play Saturday, Sept. 21, at NC State. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Contact Zach Piatt with any comments at zapiatt@bsu.edu or on Twitter @zachpiatt13.

<![CDATA[6 personal records accompany cross country's third place finish at Spartan Invite]]> A third place finish out of 26 competing teams highlighted Ball State Cross Country's finish at the Spartan Invite in East Lansing, Michigan on Friday. Ahead of the Cardinals, Grand Valley State finished in second place and host Michigan State won the meet.

Distance coach Rachel McFarlane said that the team's ability to work together ultimately contributed to the top three finish.

"Pack running and going out strong together is what we did well today," McFarlane said. "We were composed, engaged, and on a mission."

Friday's finish is the Cardinals second top three finish this season as they took third place at the IWU Twilight Classic on Sept. 6 and a second place finish at Butler Twilight on Aug. 30. Alongside a strong team finish, six out of eight runners set personal records on the day.

Leading the pack for Ball State was senior Maritza Rodriguez, followed closely by junior Cayla Eckenroth and sophomore Karleigh Conner. Rounding out the team was freshman Vivian Van Eck, senior Peyton Kneadler, senior Hannah Cummings, freshman Juliana Stogsdill, and sophomore Emma Cunningham.

The most notable performance of the day came from Rodriguez, who turned in a time of 22:09.7. This time improves upon her performance at the invite last year by a full minute and setting a new personal record.

"I was not expecting this," said Rodriguez. "I felt good and am so proud of myself. It's my senior year and I cannot afford to wait anymore. I can't wait for the next race, I'm ready to give it my all."

Coming out of the meet, McFarlane said she wants her team to continue to roll off of this momentum.

"We are eager to get back out there and compete," said McFarlane. "However, not everyone had a good day, but people stepped up and that is what I am proud of."

The Cardinals have a week off before heading to Louisville, Kentucky for the Louisville Classic on Oct. 5.

Contact Zander Lichosik with any comments at zglichosik@bsu.edu or on Twitter @Lichosik_BSU.

<![CDATA[Ball State Soccer's unbeaten streak snapped by Florida Atlantic]]> Facing 18 shots, Ball State (5-1, 0-0 MAC) saw its 16-game unbeaten streak come to a close Friday at Florida Atlantic (5-2, 0-0 Conference USA). The Cardinals fell to the Owls, 1-0, as Ball State's offense was shut out for the first time since a 1-0 loss at Kent State Sept. 28, 2018.

"Any loss sucks," Rife said. "I don't believe in moral victories. We've got some things we need to get better and some things we need to learn."

While graduate student goalkeeper Tristen Stuteville ended her night with nine saves on 10 shots, the Cardinals' offense could not click as they failed to record a shot. The Owls also maximized their offensive chances with 11 corner kicks compared to the Cardinals' one.

Despite the loss, Rife credited Stuteville's performance and leadership as a factor in keeping the game tight from a defensive standpoint.

"She continued to be solid and consistent," Rife said. "That's something you ask out of any player, especially your goalkeeper. She's done that all season, but she's trying to push herself to get better. All the praise and recognition she's gotten is well-deserved."

Senior midfielder Mary O'Hara opened the scoring for the Owls 5:56 into the first half, ultimately being all Florida Atlantic needed.

"After that first five to 10 minutes, I still think they gave us everything we could handle," Rife said. "We had some big moments to keep them off the board, and I thought we settled into it better. [I'm] obviously disappointed, but I thought the girls battled hard and grew into the game as it went."

Although Friday's regulation loss was the Cardinals' first in nearly a year, Ball State still rides an eight-game win streak at home, dating back to a 3-0 loss against Bowling Green Sept. 23, 2018.

Heading into Sunday's game at Florida Gulf Coast, Rife is hopeful the Cardinals will end their roadtrip with higher levels of focus and intensity.

"There's not really a secret formula to winning games," Rife said. "It's just about who executes and who makes fewer mistakes in critical moments. We're [in Florida] to play against two really good teams. They're going to help make us better and more prepared for the rest of our season."

The Cardinals will face the Eagles Sunday at 1 p.m.

Contact Connor Smith with any comments at cnsmith@bsu.edu or on Twitter @cnsmithbsu.

Fans walk around and talk during half time at the Woman's Soccer game, Thursday, Aug. 28, 2019 at Briner Sports Complex. Ball State Woman's soccer team defeated Illinois State University 1-0. Rebecca Slezak, DN

<![CDATA[Cardinals earn first road victory of season in comeback win over Norse]]> Ball State (4-3, 0-0 MAC) began the Northern Kentucky Tournament with its first road win of the season over Northern Kentucky (4-2, 0-0 Horizon League) Friday night. The Cardinals' victory did not come easy as they dropped the first two sets of the match, 25-18 in set one and 25-19 in set two.

In set one, the Norse offense and defense were major factors as they outscored the Cardinals 16 kills to nine and four blocks to one. Ball State gained more headway in the second set with one more kill than Northern Kentucky, but the Cardinals' nine combined attack and service errors were their difference.

"They were tough in those first two sets," head coach Kelli Miller Phillips. "They were good offensively with their attacks and put a lot of pressure on us defensively."

After dropping the first two sets, Ball State fought back, winning the third and fourth sets, 26-24 and 25-23, respectively. Northern Kentucky was not as sharp as they were start out the match with 20 combined service and attack errors. The Cardinals were able to take advantage, which helped them tie the match at two sets apiece heading into the fifth set.

The Norse were unable to overcome the Cardinals' momentum as the Cardinals took the fifth and final set, 15-9, to earn a 3-2 match victory.

"Tonight's match just showed how resilient we are and that we can win these tough matches," Miller Phillips said. "The girls just stepped up and fought back, which gives us confidence going into tomorrow playing some good teams."

The Cardinals will continue in the Northern Kentucky Tournament with two Saturday matches against Cincinnati (5-2, 0-0 AAC) at 10 a.m. and Notre Dame (4-2, 0-0 ACC) at 5:30 p.m. to close out the night at Regents Hall.

Contact Dorian Ducre with any comments at dkducre@bsu.edu or on Twitter @DucreDorian.

Ball State University Cardinals won the third set 25-16 against North Dakota State University Friday, Sept. 7, 2018, at Worthen Arena. The Cardinals won the match. Rebecca Slezak,DN

<![CDATA[Brutally Honest: Petty energy]]>

Sophia Carson is a freshman public relations major who writes "Brutally Honest" for The Daily News. Her views do not necessarily agree with those of the newspaper. Write to Sophia at secarson@bsu.edu

The 2020 presidential race is already underway, with the third Democrat debate Thursday night. This was the first time all 10 candidates were on the same stage, and this was something many people, including myself, were happy to see. Having two different nights for all the candidates was exhausting and confusing.

Going in, I hoped to hear more about gun control regulations and medicare. While immediately off the bat, Medicare was brought up, gun control was only briefly mentioned.

Not only that, all I felt I got out of last nights' debate was a lot pettiness.

The debate started out with each candidate giving an opening welcome, and of course, seven out of the 10 candidates mentioned President Donald Trump. At this point, it's a string left of a blanket. We should all know that Trump needs to be out of office by now, it would be useful if the candidates wouldn't speak of him while answering every question.

I would like to personally thank Pete Buttigieg, Andrew Yang, and Elizabeth Warren for not mentioning Trump in their openings as the other seven candidates did.

The first question right off the bat boiled the feud between Joe Biden, Warren and Bernie Sanders about Medicare. The question was directed at Biden, and I will admit it was a bit professional at the beginning, but then he spiraled into the pettiness, saying "How are we going to pay for it? I want to hear tonight how that's [going] to happen… [Warren] has not indicated how she's to pay for it, and [Sanders] has said how he's going to pay for it, but it only gets him halfway there."

Sanders got a little risky when it came his turn to talk. While passionately speaking about the pharmaceutical companies and taxes ripping off lower-income families, Sanders dropped a hard "damn" and followed it by an "if I may say so." How rebellious.

Still on the topic of Medicare, Julián Castro called out Biden for leaving 10 million people uncovered for health insurance. Not only did he call Biden out for denying a fact check of his words, he also asked him "Are you forgetting what you said two minutes ago?" after Biden tried to claim that people would not have to buy into his private insurance plan. But he did, in fact, say "The largest out of pocket payment you'll pay is $1,000."

Castro may come across to some as vindictive, but in his defense, he was interrupted by the former vice president, so who could really blame him if his response came out as what some may consider "aggressive."

Although it was Yang's turn to talk on Medicare, Buttigieg interrupted with some words of wisdom after Castro's steaming clap back: "This is why presidential debates are becoming unwatchable, this reminds everybody of what they can't stand about Washington." Beautifully said, Buttigieg, beautifully said.

During closing statements, protests broke out as Biden began talking about his most professional setback, which he really denied having one but that's besides the point. The few began chanting, starting off with "We are DACA recipients, our lives are at risk." This outburst visibly threw Biden off his game for a hot second.

Out of all the closing statements, a quote from Cory Booker's seemed to be the most likely to be hanging up in a suburban mom's kitchen, but that's what makes it the most endearing: "If you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together."

ABC NEWS Special Correspondent, Matthew Dowd, said during the debate he believed this debate was rather "unformed;" the top candidate is still at the top and the bottom one still at the bottom.

All in all, this debate was aggressive. Castro came off very combative in his clapback at Biden while talking about Medicare, and while Warren is already very popular among voters and in the party, I feel as if she gave herself a boost up in this debate by not engaging in those arguments the entire time.

I felt at some points I was watching children fighting over a toy. The way in which they explained their opinions on topics, not the way they'd fix it, came off immature and I left not really knowing what they were going to do about anything.

With that being said, the 10 candidates I watched last night, even with their flaws, are still worlds better to me than the president they were unable to keep from talking about.

In future debates, I want to hear about where these candidates are going to get the money to fund these ambitious projects they are blabbering about. How are you going to afford Medicare without raising taxes that impact lower-income families who need it most? They mention all of their plans, all of the beautiful ways they want to fix this country, but I feel are forgetting the massive amount of debt we are in. How are we going to do all these things with that over our heads?

This debate really showed us whose claws are out and whose are dipped into the catnip a bit too much. Hopefully we'll get more policy talk in the future instead of seeing who can scream louder.

<![CDATA['Fear Inoculum' finds Tool making their best and most average music after 13 years]]> Fear Inoculum just might be the most anticipated album release of all time. The alternative metal masters, Tool, have not only returned to the music scene but entered the streaming era for the first time. Fans of the band have been waiting 13 years for a new release (about the length of Taylor Swift's entire career) and have finally been given a 90-minute epic consisting of seven tracks and three interludes. But the question remains: Is Fear Inoculum worth the 13-year wait? The answer is: It's complicated.

Tool's discography is massive and very complex. In their early days, the band took progressive metal and redefined it. Tool took psychedelic components and mixed them with heavy, progressive riffs and catchy, unorthodox hooks. Songs like, "Schism," "Sober," and "Forty Six & 2" took the metal scene by storm and even had an influence on non-metal listeners.

The problem is that, with albums like theirs, it takes time to fully grasp the ideas that are present. Their entire catalog has aged to perfection, Ænima (1996) and Lateralus (2001) being the most significant of the original four releases. Fear Inoculum should receive the same treatment and reviewing it feels like a monstrous task. So, to answer my question from before: yes, Fear Inoculum is very much worth the 13-year wait. However, it is not the best Tool album by any means. Some of the passages within the seven tracks are engaging and the best in their discography, but the album as a whole fails to capture the same quality of the Tool of old.

Worth the wait

What Tool has always done best is mixing psychedelic music with alternative/progressive metal. No other band has done it the same, and it really paved the way for progressive music to come. Fear Inoculum still sees Tool doing what they do best and offers their signature mix of psychedelic/alternative metal. "Invincible" offers fantastic riffs and groovy basslines that pair well with the other instruments. Guitarist Adam Jones uses the same guitar tones that can be found on their third album Lateralus and drummer Danny Carey continues to blow everyone away with his incredible drumming and use of technique. In fact, he gets his own song in "Chocolate Chip Trip," a captivating drum solo in 7/4 time.

The performances are easily the best aspect of the album. The band members do not miss a single beat. Maynard James Keenan is at the top of his game as his voice soars with the instrumentals on tracks like "Descending" and "Pneuma." The production fits perfectly with the sound and style. Jones's guitar tone is crunchy and thick, Justin Chancellor's bass is beefy and mixed to perfection, and of course, Keenan's voice puts the icing on the cake. It floats just on top of all the instruments and has just the right amount of reverb when needed. Also, the song "7empest" might be one of the best Tool songs since "Forty Six & 2." The song is full of ferocious drumbeats and riffs with an energetic Kennan. This is the song that perfectly mixes classic Tool with their modern sound. The best part is that even at a 15-minute runtime, the song never gets boring.

Odd choices and boring passages

Tool's albums have always felt like an immersive experience. Each one is different and deserves to be listened to in full, which is the reason they stayed away from streaming for so long. However, Fear Inoculum sees Tool rehashing a lot of old ideas. There are many moments on the album where the band is stretching a musical passage out for two minutes as they did on their earlier albums, but the music is nowhere near as interesting. With the album being 90 minutes, it is very easy for some songs to get boring. "Culling Voices," "Fear Inoculum," and "Pneuma" all fall into this trap. There are some long intros ("Fear Inoculum," "Culling Voices") and middle sections that just don't need to be there and would've been better if they were trimmed down. Since the songs are long, a lot of passages can sound like Tool on autopilot, sluggishly putting more bland ideas in the songs. Another problem is the interludes, three random soundscapes that are not interesting in the slightest and pull the listener right out of the flow of the album. Even the last song on the album is an interlude titled "Mockingbeat," which only left me with a longing for one more song.

However, while the album has its faults, they don't outweigh the positives the album has to offer. The album feels as if it were crafted with care and passion rather than mindlessly thrown together or rushed. With Tool, one can always tell they make the music they want to make, and I find that respectable.

Top Tracks:




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Alice In Chains


Featured Image: Loudwire

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<![CDATA['Norman F***ing Rockwell' is a new best for Lana Del Rey, as well as one of this year's best records]]> A big aspect that has made Lana Del Rey's music her own since Born to Die has been the selling a fantasy. The character that Del Rey has created within her records of the innocent, demure girl always looking for dangerous men has always been the most alluring quality to her fans and the biggest annoyance to her detractors. Music that sounds as grounded and personal as hers coming from an artificial persona, an unashamedly feminine persona at that, was unlikely to receive unanimous acclaim from a predominantly male music media press.

However, some of the greatest early tracks (i.e. "Ride," "Born to Die") paint a beautiful scene of this emotionally detached yet dangerously sexy fantasy she has become known for embodying. As captivating of a persona and a writer that Del Rey is, especially in her first couple projects, a lack of development in her persona and her sound resulted in diminishing returns on records such as Honeymoon and especially Lust for Life.

'Norman F***ing Rockwell' sees the Lana's work at her most fleshed out

This is why a rebound record like Norman F***ing Rockwell was necessary for Del Rey. It is a major fleshing out of her persona, to the point where it feels like the separation between Lana Del Rey, the character, and Lizzie Grant, the songwriter, feels smaller than ever. The sombre yet seductive Lana that people have grown to love is here at peak performance on tracks like "F**k It I Love You" and "Love Song." The former does major justice to the trip hop-ier elements of Lana's sound, and the latter is one of the sexiest slow-burners Lana has ever recorded, which is quite the accomplishment for what is a simple, string-assisted piano ballad.

However, what makes Norman F***ing Rockwell such an exciting new direction for Lana is shown quite clearly on the opener, which is also the title track. Lyrically, it is a humorous, biting critique of the kind of emotionally-distant bad boys that would normally be the object of desire on many Lana tracks. Lines like "Your poetry's bad and you blame the news / But I can't change that, and I can't change your mood" and "You talk to the walls when the party gets bored of you" make this song a strong contender for best lyrics of 2019.

Some of the best lyrical content to come out of 2019

Many of the most emotionally potent tracks on Norman F***ing Rockwell contain bits of meta-commentary on the image that Lana has held up so strongly for years. In the chorus of "Cinnamon Girl," all of the seductive framing of Del Rey's dangerous fantasy melts away to reveal a crushing reality, "Like if you hold me without hurting me / You'll be the first who ever did." It recontextualies so much of Lana's material in a painful, yet powerful way. But "Mariners Apartment Complex" and "hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have - but i have it" are the tracks that show the biggest development of Lana Del Rey's persona. "Mariners" is especially powerful; after so many years of Lana being the small, submissive figure in her songs, a track that exudes so much self-confidence and feminine power is extremely refreshing.

'Norman F***ing Rockwell' is more than just all of the stars aligning for Lana Del Rey. Sure, it's the best production, writing, and singing to ever be on one of her records. But there's also the unprecedented elevation of her craft featured all across the record. The character that Lana has crafted across her discography has never felt so fleshed out, emotionally potent, or real before. The hazy, dream-like visions of projects like 'Born to Die' and 'Ultraviolence' are presented with a level of dimension and vividness rarely seen before, and unlikely to be seen again.

Even aside from lyrical content, Norman F***ing Rockwell is an incredible feat for Del Rey when it comes to songwriting. There are so many moments where her genius songwriting ability stands out above everything else. "Venice Bitch" remains a gorgeous, captivating track throughout its 10-minute runtime because Lana and Jack knew exactly how to pace the musical journey and transition between each musical section, while "The Greatest" breaks out a guitar solo at the perfect moment.

Lana Del Rey and Jack Antonoff are 2019's most dynamic duo

What can't be overlooked is just how gorgeous Norman F***ing Rockwell sounds. Jack Antonoff has done wonders for so many pop artists in recent years (Lorde, St. Vincent, Taylor Swift), but his work with Lana on Norman F***ing Rockwell may be his greatest accomplishment yet. Lana has always been deeply inspired by artists across the decades, but Antonoff has helped Lana make those influences more fleshed out than they have ever been. "F**k It I Love You" sounds like quintessential Lana, but the old school influences have never been fused with her style so seamlessly. The doo-wop and brill building vibes are incredibly potent on "How to Disappear," but the stripped-back instrumentation and synthetic snare modernize the track in a way that sounds supernatural and super Lana. Even beginning to break down the genius of "Venice Bitch" would take countless hours, but the hazy sonic palette, gorgeous instrumental embellishments, and masterful mixing are all big reasons as to why it's one of the best pieces of neo-psychedelia to be released in quite a long time. Even though Lana's cover of "Doin' Time" by Sublime doesn't really complement Norman F***ing Rockwell's lyrical themes, it's such a well-executed, summery trip hop jam that its inclusion on the record is still appreciated.

Listening to the finer instrumental details of Norman F***ing Rockwell, you can tell that Antonoff also co-wrote all of the tracks he co-produced. Lana's songwriting and her musical accompaniment are tightly intertwined, especially so on tracks Anotonoff worked on. Moments like the vocal line and harp perfectly transitioning from the verses of the title track to the hook, as well as the aforementioned guitar solo on "The Greatest" are solid proof of this. Every track that sees Lana and Antonoff teaming up is another moment to witness 2019's most dynamic duo.

Top Tracks:

"Norman F***ing Rockwell"

"Mariners Apartment Complex"

"Venice B*tch"

"Cinnamon Girl"

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Featured Image: NME

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