The Bloomington Playwrights Project recently announced that Sonja Johnson has been elected board president. \nJohnson, previously the development director, has volunteered at the Project since 2001. When the presidential position opened, Johnson seized the opportunity to state the need for change and her desire to become president.\nJohnson worked for IU for more than 30 years as an administrator and decided to retire in 2001. Johnson said she began taking an interest in theater before her retirement and became a regular patron of the local theaters. When her interest became more serious, she branched out and attended other theaters as far away as St. Louis and Chicago.\nJohnson began to realize that she adored theater and told her husband, Keith, that she wanted to become more involved in it. She wanted to become more than just an audience member. Shortly thereafter, a friend of hers coincidentally asked if she would be interested in volunteering at the Project. She gladly accepted.\n“I came in for a few hours a week,” Johnson said. “One day I was there and a utility guy came to the door and put a cancellation of service notice on it. That’s when I thought they needed someone full-time.”\nNot long after she signed on as a part-time volunteer, Johnson became a full-time volunteer. She mostly focused on fundraising efforts for the Project during her time there.\nIn August, David Martin was hired as general manager, which allowed Johnson to reduce some of her duties as a volunteer and express her wish to become president. That same month, Johnson was unanimously elected to become board president.\n“As our former president steps down, I can’t think of anyone who knows the organization better than Sonja,” said Artistic Director Richard Perez. “She’s really proven her abilities.”\nPerez said the Project needed someone with the leadership qualities that could contribute to the rapid growth it is experiencing right now. He believes Johnson is the right person for the job.\nJohnson said becoming president feels great, but it’s not very different. As a volunteer, she worked closely with the board members and regularly gave them reports. She said it is a more difficult job, but she’s not afraid of taking the challenge.\nFor more information about the Bloomington Playwrights Project and upcoming productions, visit www.bloomingtonplays.org.
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A recent tornado that damaged homes in Nappanee, Ind., has added fuel to the debate about whether or not Indiana should be included in the list of states comprising “tornado alley.”\nIndiana ranks 15th in the nation for tornado activity, but ranks sixth in the number of fatalities, according to The Associated Press. But many, such as Curtis Smith, chief meteorologist from Indiana’s NewsCenter, are split on whether it is necessary.\nNo harm would be done by putting Indiana on the list of tornado alley states, Smith said, but if one looks at this debate from a weather standpoint, Indiana should not be on the list because it lacks strong tornado activity. Because of the high death tolls in Indiana, Smith said he doesn’t think it’s a bad idea if it would increase the public’s awareness of tornadoes.\nIndiana is situated right outside tornado alley. According to the National Weather Service Web site, tornado alley includes North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas and a portion of Colorado.\nStephen Strader, sophomore and atmospheric science major, thinks because of where Indiana is situated and its fluctuating weather, Indiana should be on the list. \n“Indiana sits right in an area of clashing cold and warm fronts,” Strader said. “We get hot air from the Gulf of Mexico and cool air from Canada. When those fronts combine, it’s a breeding ground for tornadoes.”\nAlthough Indiana doesn’t get “supercell” tornadoes like some other states, there are enough occurrences to raise concern for public safety, Smith said.\nIndiana has experienced 451 tornadoes that caused 405 deaths since 1830, according to the National Weather Service’s Web site. Two of those have been categorized as F5s, the most severe type of tornado.\n“Adding Indiana to the list might only make a small difference in the outcome of a tornado,” Smith said, “but if we’re talking about property and lives here than I think a small difference is worth it.”
Fans of hip-hop and rap music will unite at 8 p.m. Sunday at Rhino’s All-Ages Music Club to listen to the rhymes and beats of Grayskul and Mac Lethal. \nBoth groups have been touring non-stop for about two months to promote their latest CD releases, “Bloody Radio” and “11:11,” respectively.\nGrayskul and Mac Lethal have performed in Bloomington before and said they are excited to return for yet another performance. Grayskul consists of rappers Onry Ozzborn and JFK. The two have known each other since 1998, but they said they didn’t form Grayskul until 2004. They said it has worked out well for them; they both have since decided to dedicate themselves entirely to their music and have never looked back. Hailing from Seattle, Grayskul pride themselves on making music that everyone can enjoy no matter where their interests lie.\nOzzborn said “Bloody Radio” is a conglomeration of all the sub-genres that make up hip-hop. “There’s at least one or two songs that everyone can get into no matter what you listen to,” he said.\nThe title “Bloody Radio” is just further proof of how universal Grayskul feels their music is. \n“‘Bloody Radio’ is our version of the radio. It’s like if we took over a radio station for a day. Everyone can enjoy it,” \nOzzborn said.\nTaking a different route, Mac Lethal prefers to interject humor into his music. He’s also a self-admitted “sarcastic” rapper, who said he draws inspiration from stand-up comedians.\n“My messages are more or less about making sure that people don’t take life too seriously,” Lethal said. “Just try to have fun and make sure things don’t get\ntoo crazy.”\nLethal was born and raised in Kansas City, and he’s got the accent to prove it. He doesn’t let it slow him down though and prefers to embrace it. \nLethal said he is proud of his new album, but as soon as he finishes this tour, he is going back to writing songs.\n “I pulled it off, but now I got other ideas,” Lethal said. \nLethal said he doesn’t want to let one piece of music define his career as a rapper or put all his chickens in one basket;\nGrayskul and Mac Lethal will perform at 8 p.m. Sunday at Rhino’s Music Club. Admission is $8 and all ages are \nwelcome.
It’s just after Halloween. Masks are stowed in the closet until next year, candy wrappers are strewn across the floor and the same horror movies that run year after year stop. But what happens to the pumpkins that are slowly rotting away on the porch?\nThe answer is obvious: They are launched in the air and demolished in the Great Bloomington Pumpkin Launch.\nAn annual event since 2002, Thomson Park will hold the Pumpkin Launch, located at 1400 Thomson Park Dr. \nThe launching contest consists of both distance and accuracy segments. Participants in this event are required to design and construct anything they believe can launch a pumpkin that weighs at least five pounds. These devices must be powered by humans and any that use electricity, hydraulics, fuel or compressed air will not be allowed. Those interested in launching with their own machines can register for $5.50.\nSpectators to the launch pay a $1 entry fee.\nAbout 200 to 300 people show up every year in anticipation of the soaring pumpkins, said Sarah Nix, Community Events Specialist for Bloomington Parks and Recreation. \nFor $1 more, attendees can participate in a dessert taste-off.\n“It (consists) of area desserts that are all pumpkin flavored: cookies and cake and pumpkin flavored cheesecake,” Nix said. \nAfter the tasting is done, participants are asked to mark down their favorites. At the end, a winner is announced.\nThough the dessert taste-off might appeal to some, the pumpkin launch is the main event.\nThe launch participants need four pumpkins total for the accuracy and the distance competitions because each competition has two trials, according to a press release.\nFor an additional $25 registration fee, and another pumpkin, participants can compete in the Longest Launch contest. \nThe winner of this contest will receive what Nix called the “Bloomington Prize Pack,” a bundle of gift certificates from local restaurants valued at more than $200.\nJack Brubaker has been participating every year. His persistence and launching skills allowed him to win the distance contest every time and the accuracy contest once last year.\n“(My machine) is made out of two-by-fours … The actual design is one I’ve made up,” Brubaker said. \nBrubaker’s machine, based off Chinese design, is the product of many hours of research. Brubaker said his machine is called a counterweight trebuchet, similar to the battle catapults seen in the “Lord of the Rings” movies.\n“We usually have beefy guys operate it (because) sometimes it tries to flip over,” Brubaker said. “We oftentimes have to get volunteers to (hold it down).”\nBrubaker said he enjoys the event but regrets not seeing more participants in the contest every year. He said that there have been some in the past that have given him a run for his money. \n“If anybody wants to build something or wants advice on how to build something, I’ll be glad to help,” Brubaker said.
About four years ago, Mitchell, Ind., resident Jarret Marshall noticed an ad about the Whispers Estate, a historical home for sale. The house was cheap, almost too cheap, but Marshall bought it anyway. What he didn’t know was that someone already inhabited his new home.\nMarshall said his house is haunted and local ghost hunters agree, since many have flocked to the site to search for the ghost of “Rachel,” a young girl who died decades ago. Now a bed and breakfast, the house will be featured in an upcoming Sci Fi Channel documentary. \nOn the exterior, Marshall’s house looked like an ordinary historical home. The inside, Marshall said, needed a lot of work.\nA week after Marshall bought the home, he and his sister were painting the upper floor. Marshall was downstairs in the kitchen, while his sister went upstairs to start working. \n“My sister went upstairs and a couple minutes later, I thought I saw her come back down,” Marshall said. “I didn’t look twice because I thought it was her. … She followed me to the fireplace, but when I turned around she wasn’t there. I heard someone whisper, ‘hey,’ but no one was around. I went upstairs and there was my sister with headphones on, painting. She said she never went downstairs.”\nThus began the strange occurrences that were to become commonplace in Marshall’s life.\nMarshall said he has been experiencing paranormal activity ever since he moved into the house and began remodeling. Eventually, Marshall began to get curious and did research on his home.\nThe house was built in 1899, and its first owners were Dr. John and Jessie Gibbons. In order to stay close to his family, John Gibbons had his office in one room of the home and an operating room in another. The Gibbons were also known to take in orphans, and one such orphan was Rachel. Around Christmas one year, Rachel stumbled into a candle adorning the Christmas tree and caught herself on fire. She died two days later under Gibbons’ care. People believe she now haunts Marshall’s home.\nGhost hunters far and wide began to take notice after Marshall initially contacted the Indiana Ghost Trackers to ask them to investigate his strange experiences. They wanted to investigate for themselves. Others followed, including the Louisville Ghost Hunters Society. Tonya Haynes, case manager for the Louisville Ghost Hunters Society, went to the house with the group once.\n“(Rachel) likes to move things … We set some jacks out and she moved them … We were recording in the attic above the nursery once and all of the sudden insulation started being thrown at us… You get smells…(and) they’ve actually picked up electronic voice phenomenon,” Haynes said.\nShannon Simpson also investigated the house with Indiana Ghost Trackers.\n“Around the (Whispers Estate) is one of the more active areas,” Simpson said. “We had some photography with an apparition caught in the front parlor of the house. We captured several (electronic voice phenomenon). We even had one that said the owner’s name when it was played backwards.” \nBoth groups’ findings garnered national attention, including sparking the attention of the Sci Fi Channel. Sci Fi is going to run a documentary called “Children of the Grave,” which will feature the Whispers Estate. There is no set air date for the program, but Marshall said he thinks it will be picked up in a couple of months.\nMarshall has converted his house into a bed and breakfast since his claim to fame. Guests may stay in Rachel’s old room, the old doctor’s office or the original owner’s bedroom. \n“(Marshall) has had people stay in there and say that they see the doctor appear,” Haynes said.\nVideos of the ghost hunters’ findings are available on YouTube, some so convincing they might change non-believers into believers.\n“Whispers Estate is one of those places that every ghost hunter wishes they had in their neighborhood,” Brian Pittman of Haunted Indiana Paranormal said in one YouTube video.
Bloomington City Hall is playing host to “Tibet in Sight and Sound,” an exhibit of rare photography and music from the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center’s collection. Those who are interested in familiarizing themselves with Tibetan life can do so until Oct. 31.\nThe exhibit was put on with the help of the Sound Healing Foundation. The audio portion of the exhibit includes sound from ceremonies inside monasteries, nunneries and other parts of Tibet.\nOne of the contributing photographers, Adrianne Koteen, has had her work featured in the International Museum of Women, the United Nations and the San Francisco Zen Center. Tom Kenyon, who provided the audio, is a composer, neuroscientist and sound healing teacher.\nMost of the photographs in the collection were taken in Tibet and focus on monastic life. Richard Farkas is among the photographers who contributed to the collection. Farkas said he has been taking photos with a monastic focus for about 10 years.\nFarkas’ photos depict everything from prayer flags raised above a field of vibrant yellow flowers, to a monk flashing a peace sign, to a table adorned with candles. His realist approach allows viewers to be taken in so much that they can almost feel the atmosphere of Tibet around them.\nFarkas said his involvement with monastic photography was something that happened gradually over time. \n“As I began to learn more about Tibetan Buddhism and Tibet, I became more interested in the people,” he said. \nFarkas, who has visited Tibet twice in the past, said he believes it’s important that people see images of Tibet such as those on display. \n“I think it is important for people to understand what has happened in Tibet, both before 1950, when the People’s Republic of China invaded, and since,” he said. “Through my pictures ... I hope to get people interested enough to find out more about Tibet and perhaps tell others. Tibetans are beautiful people, and they have a wonderful culture.” \nThe “Tibet in Sight and Sound” exhibit will be on display until Oct. 31 in the Bloomington City Hall Atrium. The exhibit is free and open to the public.
Joe Cameron is going to be on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” – he’s sure of it. He even has a Web site to prove it.\nCameron is a pop/rock singer-songwriter and guitarist out of Kokomo, Ind., who graduated from IU in 2001. A few months ago, Cameron’s mother was so convinced of her son’s talent that she sent “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” a letter urging them to have her son perform. Cameron decided to take things a step further and created a Web site, www.imgonnabeonellen.com. He frequently updates his blog, letting his fans know how much progress he is making in getting onto the show, and he also posts videos of himself performing. The videos show Cameron singing comedic songs or talking to fans about how much he wants to be on the show.\nSo, why Ellen DeGeneres and not Jay Leno or David Letterman, for example?\n“The practical answer is that there’s no way I could get on Leno or Letterman without a recording contract,” Cameron said. “She’s the only one accessible to the public. A big part of one of her goals is the average Joe’s involvement in her show.”\nCameron said he has given up all other job responsibilities and now dedicates himself completely to his music. Though he said he joined the music world late, the 30-year-old has had no problem getting some great playing opportunities thus far. \n“In ’99, I sang in the Indy 500 parade. There (were) 300,000 people in the stands,” he said. “It was awesome.”\nCameron described his music as barbeque-picnic-beach rock that “has a very positive overtone” and is “very mainstream, Top-40 pop-rock,” he said.\nBut don’t be fooled by the broad label Cameron applies to his own music. His voice, catchy melodies and stick-in-your-head lyrics weave together to create a style of music all his own. Cameron said he draws influences from all across the musical spectrum, citing Sting, Sarah McLachlan, Jason Mraz and Rob Thomas.\nSo far, Cameron is making a lot of headway with his goal of getting on Ellen’s show. His Web site has been visited so many times that the show’s producers contacted Cameron asking what the site was all about.\n“They would’ve never contacted me if my site hadn’t gotten so many hits,” Cameron said. “So many people were e-mailing (the Ellen show) from my site that they couldn’t ignore it anymore.”\nCameron says that fans can help by going to his Web site and sending an e-mail to “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” in support of him performing on the show.
American folk-rock legend and icon Bob Dylan will play Friday at Assembly Hall in a homecoming concert that will also feature 70s singer-songwriter Elvis Costello and Amos Lee.\nThe 7 p.m. concert is sponsored by Assembly Hall in collaboration with the Union Board and the IU Alumni Association.\nDylan’s music has greatly evolved since his heyday in the 1960s, but he is not forgotten by younger generations. \n“I think he’s written many great songs,” said freshman Ted Somerville. “He’s a legend and it’s important to recognize that ... (and) what he did for music and political activism.”\nCostello is also back from an extended break from his solo performances. The tour with Dylan is Costello’s comeback after a 12-year hiatus.\nThis is not Dylan’s first visit to IU.\n“He’s been here twice in the past,” said Adam Soiref, IU Union Board concert director. “Both times we sold out.”\nAssembly Hall has not held a concert for about five years – the last was when John Mellencamp played in Bloomington, Soiref said. \nAttendance was high for the Mellencamp concert, but Dylan sales are looking to top that, Soiref said. As of Thursday, organizers had sold about 7,600 tickets.\nLike Dylan, Costello has also performed in Bloomington.\n“It’s been about 25 or 30 years since he’s been here,” Soiref said. “For most people, it’s going to be the first time (that they’ve seen him).”\nDylan is touring in support of the release of his latest greatest-hits album, “Dylan.” The collection is being released in three different forms: an 18-song CD, a 51-song three-disc collection and a deluxe boxed edition. \nDylan fans might also take an interest in “The Other Side of the Mirror,” an 80-minute DVD featuring unreleased footage of Dylan’s performances at the Newport Folk Festival from 1963 to 1965. Its release date is Oct. 30.\nDean of Students Dick McKaig said he is excited about the concert.\n“I’ve been to the Dylan concerts the last two times he’s been here,” he said. “It’s the first Assembly Hall concert in years, so that’s exciting. I’m looking forward to it.”\nTickets, priced at $30, $45 and $55, are still available at all Ticketmaster locations, online at ticketmaster.com and at the IU Auditorium Box Office.
At first glance, "My Three Angels" might appear to have a less-than-ideal situation for comedy. It is set in French Guiana in 1910, the South American country was then a penal colony of the French government. Convicts lived in the hot, tropical colony for the length of their sentences. Largely, this was an attempt by the French government to colonize the area. However, after becoming somewhat established, non-convicts came to live in French Guiana as well, often holding positions of authority over the convicts. The Ducotel family, around which the plot revolves, manages a small store for the inhabitants of the colony.\nThe play takes place on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The Ducotels are having their roof repaired by a trio of convicts -- more specifically, a trio of murderers -- who eavesdrop on the family's business while upon the roof. The good-natured but dimwitted Felix Ducotel, the father of the family, invites the trio to stay for Christmas dinner as repayment; earlier, the trio helped to revive Marie Louise Ducotel, Felix's daughter, after she had a fainting spell. The semi-aristocratic family is tentatively anxious about having three murderers stay for Christmas dinner, but are won over by the convicts' giving spirits. During their stay, the three show nothing but benevolence toward the family, changing their attitude about convicts and helping the family with various problems along the way.\nThis trio of compassionate convicts, played by Chris Nelson, Jose Antonio Garcia and Brad Fletcher, are the most engaging characters of the play. Together, they have a singular stage presence that is entertaining yet touching. The actors have all been seen recently in IU productions: Garcia was most recently in "Lysistrata" and "A Moon For the Misbegotten;" Fletcher was seen in "This is Our Youth" and "Trelawny of the 'Wells;" Nelson also has performed in "A Moon for the Misbegotten" as well as "A Streetcar Named Desire."\nObviously no strangers of the theater, these actors create a dynamic that reaches the audience. Working as a team to help the Ducotel family, each character has a distinct personality that plays well off of the others. Garcia's character is the leader of the group, while Fletcher plays the quick-to-action, violent convict. Nelson holds the role of a fast-talking con man, which lends itself to some hilarious dialogue. Overall, the members of the trio become the most endearing characters of the play, creating an honest interest in the Ducotel's world.\nOther notable performances include those of Allison Batty in the role of Emilie Ducotel and Sam Wootten as Henri Trochard. Batty recently was seen in "A Streetcar Named Desire," while Wootten played a key character in "Lysistrata." In "My Three Angels," their respective characters are on stage for a matter of minutes, but their performances are worth noting. As the wife of the child-like Felix Ducotel, Batty's performance shows the aggravation of a wife married to an irresponsible man while still representing her love for her husband, despite his weaknesses.\nMy Three Angels runs Wednesday to July 27 and July 30 to Aug. 3. Tickets can be purchased at the Brown County Playhouse, Ticketmaster or the IU Auditorium Box Office.
Fort Wayne has an undeserved reputation when it comes to big-city life. Granted, it is located in the wasteland of corn stalks and soybean fields known as Northeast Indiana, which is enough to bias almost any opinion. However, Indiana's second-largest city features a more than ample range of activities that makes any college student's visit worthwhile.\nApproximately a three-hour drive from Bloomington, Fort Wayne is an easy weekend vacation spot -- or even a good place to check out for a day's worth of serious shopping. Unknown to many Hoosiers, Indiana's largest mall isn't located in Indianapolis; Fort Wayne's Glenbrook Square easily wins that title. Boasting four department stores and more than 160 specialty shops, Glenbrook Square effortlessly turns into a day-long shopping adventure. The multi-level mall holds stores ranging from d.e.m.o. to Structure to Charlotte Russe to GUESS, easily suiting most consumer tastes. \nIn the slight chance that you can't find that awesome shirt you've been looking for at Glenbrook Square, you also can search for a new wardrobe at Jefferson Pointe. The newest shopping center to come to Fort Wayne, contemporary and original shops constantly are moving into this open-air mall. With architecture that echoes that of Mediterranean buildings, Jefferson Pointe gives a decidedly unique meaning to "spending a day at the mall." And if you get tired, you always can grab a bite to eat at one of the 22 restaurants and eateries, then head to the central outdoor fountain to enjoy lunch on the square.\nWhile window shopping at Jefferson Pointe, be sure to check out Rave Motion Pictures. Located within the Jefferson Pointe complex, it houses 18 movies screens, leaving you with the impression of an airport. The two-story plate glass entrance, complete with spotlights and other movie-related paraphernalia, makes a night at the movies a truly memorable event.\nHowever, Fort Wayne seems to have infinite options for any given occasion. If sprawling multiplexes aren't what you are looking for, see that new movie at the Cinema Grill. Located close to Glenbrook Square, this small theater doubles as a restaurant. Instead of stadium-style seating, your group of friends will be sitting at a table or a bar. As the movie plays, waiters will come to you to refill your drinks and take your orders from the Cinema Grill's own menu -- from which you can order popcorn for the traditionalists.\nCraving something more social? Perhaps louder, as well? Try Piere's, Fort Wayne's most popular nightlife spot. The massive complex holds five different clubs and two banquet facilities under one roof. With a club this large, crowds up to 2,000 can see Powerman 5000, Sisqo and Snoop Dogg, just to name a few of the 65 national acts that Piere's plays host to each year. \nHowever, if you just want to get out to dance, don't wait for the night of a show. Piere's has multi-level dancing, suspended lit dance floors, and even an official Wild On E! dance cage that stands 15 feet tall. For all the club people, Piere's is definitely a hot spot of the Midwest.\nAfter dragging yourself back, completely exhausted from a night of dancing and entertainment, you might want to check out some of the more mellow attractions the city has to offer. From July 12 \nto July 20, the Three Rivers Festival will be taking place at Headwaters Park in downtown Fort Wayne. This 35-year-old festival brings in about 500,000 people over the course of nine days, making it the second largest festival in Indiana. With amusement park-like rides, vendors, beer tents, art shows and concerts -- this year Ted Nugent and David Lee Roth are headlining the festival -- it's an event that everyone in the Fort will be checking out.\nDowntown also holds attractions for the artistic type. The Three Rivers Festival takes place practically on the front lawn of the Fort Wayne Museum of Art. The modest museum has held exhibitions by internationally acclaimed artists, such as glass artist Dale Chihuly, and with a $3 admission fee, it's a cheap opportunity to pick up some culture.\nAfter you've got the artistic part of your brain warmed up, head further downtown to the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory. Here, you can appreciate the art of nature in three distinct climates. Consisting of three massive connected greenhouses, you can see a rainforest waterfall in the Tropical House as well as a giant Saguaro cactus in the Sonoran Desert House. The third greenhouse is a showcase that changes several times a year. Currently, the showcase greenhouse is housing many different species of butterfly for visitors to enjoy. \nOn your way out of town, your final stop could be the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo. Although it is geared toward younger children, the Children's Zoo holds interest for all ages. Check out the award-winning Indonesian rainforest and an African veldt, complete with tigers, orangutans and Komodo dragons -- but be cautious of the peacocks and other birds that freely wander the grounds!\nOffering the attractions found in most big cities, Fort Wayne holds undiscovered excitement well within driving distance of Bloomington. Full of nightlife, arts, entertainment and shopping, Fort Wayne is an easy summer getaway destination for that weekend when you're looking for something different.