The most influential drummers of 2012

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Photo of a drummer in action

2012 may now be history, but there is still a little more to talk about before we leave it behind, such as finding out who were the most influential artists of 2012. Over the next month or so, I'll post opinions on the topic from artists, commentators, teachers, and others, with whom they thought were the best artists in a number of roles. This week we start with drummers.

You often hear a lot about singers and guitarists, but for most bands drummers are a crucial part. Their playing can really make a good song what it is, and their skill on the set can influence generations of drummers after them, just as guitarists can influence future guitarists. So, with that in mind, I set out to ask some folks who actually drum who they thought was the most influential drummer of 2012.

My first respondent was Adam Silverman. Since late 2011, Silverman has been the drummer for country artist Lauren Alaina, the runner-up on season 10 of American Idol. He also blogs at his site adamdrums.com. Silverman told me about the drummer for Jason Aldean, who Alaina toured with last year.

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NFL Week 1 Recap: Peyton Manning debuts and RGIII dominates

The first week of the NFL season is now in the books and it did not disappoint. Teams like the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens proved they were worthy of all the off-season hype that surrounded their teams, while others like the Philadelphia Eagles and Detroit Lions stumbled, but won, in their opening games. With that being said, there were a few moments that stood out above all else in the opening week of the 2012 NFL Season:

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Peyton Manning's stellar debut in Denver

When Peyton Manning decided to sign with Denver in the offseason, speculation began about whether or not Manning was fully recovered from his neck injury that cost him all of last season. Well, the future Hall-of-Famer silenced all of his doubters. Manning threw for 253 yards and two touchdowns, helping Denver to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-19 on Sunday night. The Broncos now head to Atlanta to face the Falcons on Monday Night Football.

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This is awesome: David Akers makes 63-yard field goal

I'm not normally a football fan, but this is ridiculously impressive even for me. In case you missed it, in yesterday's game vs. the Packers, the San Francisco 49ers' David Akers made a record-tying 63-yard field goal. Only three other players in history have accomplished the feat, including two who made the goal in very thin air at Denver's Mile High Stadium and one who was using a controversial modified shoe. So this is a big deal.

Click the link above to see the video of the shot. My favorite moments in the video:
1. 11 seconds: the thud when the football hits the goal post, and most of the Green Bay fans think they've managed to avoid the 49ers' point gain.
2. 14 seconds: the moment when the crowd quiets down, because they realize that the point gain has, in fact, happened.
3. 37 seconds: the field goal is ALMOST blocked by a Packer, due to the very long distance and the very low trajectory of the punt.
4. 43 seconds: Akers' face when he realizes what he has just done. It's almost like he can't believe it himself.

What do you think? Was there a better moment in football yesterday? Let us know in the comments.

Review: Phantom Las Vegas really is a spectacular show

Sign outside Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular

When I was in Las Vegas the week before last, I had the opportunity to see Phantom — The Las Vegas Spectacular at The Venetian. Like Penn & Teller, I somehow hadn't yet gotten to it. In this case, though, I had actually stayed at The Venetian for three consecutive years. I guess three years of hearing the main theme everywhere in the casino finally got to me, because I couldn't pass it up, especially after I learned that the show is closing in September.

The cast

First let me say that everybody was fantastic. Anthony Crivello as The Phantom, of course, but also Kristi Holden as Christine, Andrew Ragone as Raoul, Tina Walsh as Madame Giry, and the rest of the ensemble as well. They played their parts well, and Crivello in particular had a way of keeping the audience captivated. However, for me, John Leslie Wolfe as Monsieur André, and Lawson Skala as Monsieur Firmin, often stole the show at some points. They were hilarious, and the two actors have great chemistry together.

I'm still not sure whether that's a good thing or a bad thing. On one hand, they didn't so overshadow the two main cast members to make their performances pale in comparison. On other other hand, Wolfe's and Firmin's performances definitely left me wanting more appearances from their characters. Don't get me wrong; this show is about The Phantom and Christine, but they just didn't have quite as much an effect on me as Wolfe and Firmin (except maybe disliking The Phantom a bit for killing people). Maybe I'm just more into comedy than romantic drama, but after seeing them in this show, I want to see a spin-off featuring Monsieurs André and Firmin.

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Liz and Allison review Harvey

Harvey on Broadway

This past Saturday, Allison and I went to see Harvey on Broadway, starring Jim Parsons (of Big Bang Theory fame). Here's an approximation of our conversation on the train ride home:

Liz: Wow, that was really good. I think Jim Parsons was my favorite; his character was basically Sheldon, just way more social.

Allison: Yeah, he did a great job, and his portrayal of Elwood P. Dowd was so engaging! I was surprised to see Carol Kane pop up in one scene, but I couldn't tell if she was acting or just being herself.

Liz: Haha, yeah, I know. She's kind of always like that.

Allison: "Hi, I'm Carol Kane! And I'm playing Carol Kane! I'm wide-eyed and wacky, and you LOVE me!"

Liz: So true! I do love her.

Allison: It's hard not to love Carol Kane, which is why she has the market pegged on being herself. But I think the actress I was most impressed with was Jessica Hecht as Harvey's sister, Veta — those nervous breakdown scenes! Wow!

Liz: Yes! I was cracking up so hard; the second half of the show was better than the first just because of that.

Allison: I feel like sometimes in theater and film, there's a tendency to make even a "breakdown" appear glamorous. And this was definitely not glamorous, which is part of what made it so amazing. We were sitting so close that we could see the tears streaming down her face, and the beads of sweat, and the panic in her eyes... I was like, "Woah, this woman is seriously on the edge right now."

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