Category Archives: Reviews

Tiger King Review

   Samantha Cole

     At any point in your life, ever, have you thought to yourself, “Golly, the American privatized tiger industry is rife with corruption, mysterious deaths, marital scandals, and oddly catchy low-budget country music! I certainly hope a well-known media production company publishes a docu-drama to bring all of these things (and more!) to light!”?

     If you are in that minority, congratulations: Netflix has you covered with their complete and utter black horse of a series: Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness.

     If you aren’t in that minority, prepare to become concerningly invested in the lore of American tiger-ownership. The topic sounds unbelievably droll–the rich own tigers, they probably aren’t keeping them in the best of circumstances and hopefully the USFWS does something about it. Those were my assumptions.

     There is so, so much more to it than that. Tiger King centers around two major tiger-keeping centers (not zoos, as the latter of the two would hasten to inform you of): Joe Exotic’s GW Zoo and Carole Baskin’s Big Cat Rescue.

     There are other major players, of course–Doc Antle, another tiger zoo owner who employs a number of women in conditions eerily reminiscent of those in 1963 Playboy clubs; Mario Tabraue, a private tiger owner/former drug kingpin who, despite having been the basis for Scarface’s eponymous character and doing things like, say, sewing open 223 live snakes, stuffing them with cocaine, and stitching them back together, is the most normal of all the people interviewed; and Saff, the man who got attacked by a tiger, underwent amputation, and returned to work five days later, just to name a few.

     The amount of people involved in this world is baffling, it really is. And they’ve all got incredibly wild backstories. While, after the first few episodes, the crew starts focusing in on its stars (Exotic and Baskin), more and more people are introduced.

     A huge part of Tiger King’s draw, to me, is its nonchalant way of slapping the viewer in the face every five minutes with, “but wait, there’s more!” to which the audience can only respond with bafflement. 

     Within the first twenty minutes of the first episode, there’s already so, so much going on, it’s impossible to fathom how things could get weirder. 

     Take its star, Joe Exotic. You’ve made peace with the fact that he has a horrendous mullet, dresses exclusively in fringe, has a voice perpetually in the tonal range of “pre-teen snorting helium,” a career in country music that isn’t half-bad and is in prison. That’s an awful lot of conflicting information, right? There couldn’t be anything else, right?

     Then Tiger King decides to show you some interview clips with one of Exotic’s five husbands. And a clip of his polygamist gay wedding, which is, to say the least, not something people tend to expect from a gun-toting Oklahoman redneck.

     The series truly has a gift for establishing a comfort zone in what is a very bizarre situation, then surprising you over and over again with completely wild information. And it is not a trick exclusive to GW Zoo, either!

     While memes regarding it are everywhere, I still won’t detail the reveal for spoilers’ sake, but one of the best instances of this is in regards to Baskin. Nobody is safe from Tiger King’s reveals.

     Post-release and post-popularity, many of the people featured–including Baskin and her current husband–have released statements countering things that Tiger King has implied.

     The thing Baskin seems to have missed, however, is what makes Tiger King so interesting: the crew is barely featured. There are no interviews with experts non-affiliated with the tiger scene, no huffy opinions from quirky-yet-memorable cameramen–everything presented is due to the follies of its stars.

     They don’t know when to stop talking.

     Every opinion given is that of someone involved. All the information surrounding an incident is given freely. There are only about three characters who seem to know when to keep things close to the vest, especially when being interviewed by a camera crew.

     This lack of definitive conclusion on what you’re supposed to do with the information is a bit annoying, I’ll admit. The facts of the story don’t have a good conclusion; the audience is left to form their own.

     From a journalistic standpoint, that’s a very good way to cap things off. Present unbiased information; let the audience do what they will.

     From a storytelling standpoint? It’s awful and I hate it. I lack the fortitude to be satisfied without someone telling me how to feel.

     Regardless, the back half of the series, where things become less zany and more sordid, isn’t where the series shines. Tiger King is, legitimately, more about the journey than the destination.

     Mounting twists and turns aren’t all the series have to offer, however. The rivalry between Exotic and Baskin is riveting. At the start of the series is a clipshow of Exotic mentioning Baskin, peppered liberally with expletives, which is but a precursor to the drama to come. Exotic does not like Baskin.

     The feeling is mutual, however whereas Exotic gives an impressive number of 20-minute harangues on his distaste for Baskin, Baskin pursues a costly legal battle with him.

     Analysis of Tiger King invariably leads back to one question: Who, exactly, is the worst of the main three characters? Exotic and Baskin both do some pretty shady things in the pursuit of their rivalry and plenty of things outside of it as well; Antle, while running what is arguably the nicest of the three establishments, is also employing some pretty egregious child-grooming tactics.

     It’s another reason I wish the show had given personal opinions on the events contained. Opinions vary wildly; I, personally, see Antle as the worst of the three. A friend finds Joe the worst of the three, citing the thrall he held his husbands in. My father is convinced Baskin is the worst, mostly due to how perfectly she falls into “crazy cat lady” stereotypes that he is vehemently against.

     Tiger King’s inherent ability to spark conversation is undoubtedly another facet of its success. While quarantine was a massive boost for the series’ reach, its success cannot be based entirely on luck. Despite all the wild information and wacky dynamics, Tiger King has more to its name: production quality.

     Even compared to other series put out by Netflix (for instance, Car Masters: Rust to Riches, put on the site in about the same timeframe, which has camera-work not out of place on an HGTV series), the quality is stellar. Motion graphics occasionally crop up with old documents, there’s a wide breadth of fantastic aerial shots, the dramatic recreations aren’t overdone and they somehow make even old, grainy security camera footage look polished and professional.

     There is visible care put into the editing, and it boosts the series a lot. The editors did a fantastic job, throwing in information at exactly the right time. A lesser crew would have not done the story justice.

     The success of the series is twofold: the public has something to talk about and make memes over, yes, but a lot more people are aware of the rampant issues with privatized tiger ownership.

     There are a lot of issues with privatized tiger ownership. Tiger King makes the viewer stare them in the face.

     Before the series, public awareness about big cat abuse wasn’t fantastic. Baskin tried to raise awareness, yes, but she wasn’t wildly successful. Additionally, the event that by all right should have triggered a wave of activism (in 2011, eighteen Bengal tigers, among other animals, escaped a private zoo on Zanesville, OH, and were shot) did nothing except make an awful lot of people sad for a few days, somewhat akin to the Harambe incident. 

     In terms of pop culture references, the issue did not have any popular documentaries or other media before Tiger King to do what Supersize Me did for childhood obesity–the closest it got was a song titled Truck Stop Tiger by ROAR, a band known for one song popular on TikTok.

     Whether Tiger King will incentivise activism remains to be seen. Its pervasive effect on the American consciousness cannot be denied, however. The series has incredibly good word of mouth. As an example: President Trump said he would, “look into,” pardoning Joe Exotic. 

     While rewatch value on the series isn’t the best, the show is definitely worth taking the time to delve into. Clocking in at a mere five hours and seventeen minutes, Tiger King is an excellent form of escapism with low commitment.

     If collecting tarantulas and hating the bunny NPC in the new Animal Crossing game isn’t your speed, Tiger King has plenty of animals, but with many more suspected murders and bisexual trysts. If nothing else, the series makes for incredibly riveting dinner conversation.

 

Lil Uzi Vert: New Album Review

Brianna Doctor     

     For over a year now, Lil Uzi Vert fans have been waiting for the popular artist to drop his much anticipated album. Finally, on Fri. March 6, Uzi Vert released Eternal Atake

     With sixteen new songs and two previously released songs, “Futsal Shuffle 2020” and “That Way,” Eternal Atake runs a little over one hour total. 

     The album has only one feature, and the only artist featured on the album is Syd on the song “Urgency.” 

     Lil Uzi Vert has taken over the charts as sixteen out of his eighteen songs are in the first twenty out of fifty top hits on Apple Music. As for Spotify, fourteen of his songs are in the first twenty out of two hundred hits.

     Although Eternal Atake has taken over music apps globally, there was mixed reviews about the album. Many people loved the long awaited album, while others felt the album was not the best. 

     Senior Jay Singh was very excited to listen to Lil Uzi Vert’s new album, but although he ended up liking the album, he was a little bit disappointed.

     “I really liked the album, but it definitely was not his best album. I think the album was really overhyped, but I still thoroughly enjoyed his album,” Singh said. 

     Some people did like the album, and senior Andrew Radigan believes the music was good.

     “I really enjoyed listening to his album, and I really liked it. The music was great, and I liked a lot of the songs.

     I personally loved the album. I thought it was very well made, and it definitely did not disappoint. It was different than his other albums, and I liked how he changed his style up.

     Even though he decided to try out some new stuff, and change it up, parts of his album were still like his previous albums. 

     I really like his song “P2” which is a sequel to “XO TOUR Llif3” on his second album Luv Is Rage 2. The beat is almost the exact same as “XO TOUR Llif3,” but the lyrics were obviously changed. 

     Next on the list of my favorites are “Homecoming” and “Prices.” Both songs have a good beat, and I also like “Lo Mein.” 

     Lil Uzi Vert released a tweet on Mon. March 9, and he told his followers that he would be releasing Eternal Atake (Deluxe) this weekend. 

     I would definitely recommend listening to his new album, and then listening to his Deluxe album when he releases it this weekend. 

     To listen to Eternal Atake on Apple Music, search this: https://music.apple.com/us/album/eternal-atake/1501843464

     To listen to Eternal Atake on Spotify, search this: https://open.spotify.com/album/7IyoGB8J31fvQDwGtHAq9m

 

      

 

Restore Cold Pressed Review

     Hannah Bartels

     Restore is a modern and popular juice shop chain. It has several local locations and attracts a young crowd.

     Restore has many features which make it so appealing to a younger crowd. For starters, the whole menu was created by people with a mindset solely focused on health benefits. 

    Though the shop vies to produce only healthy items, the items are quite delicious! I, myself, was drawn there, because of its popularity and recommendation from my other young friends for its yummy items. 

     I drove 20 minutes out to Restore’s Hudson location. It was definitely a trip worth taking. The first thing I noticed was how modern the shop was on the outside.

     The shop had a beige exterior with a black awning and light fixtures. The whole shop had a sense of cleanliness and modernity. 

     Inside, the shop was fairly similar to Starbucks and the space seemed open and bright. The inside was just as modern as the outside. 

     The only problem I had with the layout was the lack of seating. My friend and I could only find one table that was open for us to sit and it was pretty early in the morning.

     However, the food made up for this. I ordered an Organic Acai bowl. It had Brazilian acai berries blended together with coconut milk and milk. I had the option to choose three toppings, included with my order, so I chose bananas, blueberries and strawberries.

     Some of the other toppings were granola, peanut butter, coconut flakes, chia seeds and lots more. In addition to my smoothie bowl, I ordered one of their popular juices.

     The juice was named 03 and it supported immunity health. It was a super combination of apple, lemon, ginger, and cayenne. 

     The drink was much stronger than I expected; however, it was delicious. I felt really healthy after drinking it. I would not recommend this drink for people with a sensitive stomach because of how strong it is.

     As for the smoothie bowl, it was even better. The bowl was thick in consistency and was delicious with the toppings. I got more than I wanted to eat, so the price was worth it. 

     The service was great and the customers were all pretty young. Restore offers healthy choices your body and tastebuds will agree on. I recommend Restore to anyone willing to try something new! 

Justin Bieber Album Review

Maria Leonino

     After five years, Justin Bieber released a new album titled “Changes” on Feb. 14, 2020. The 17 track album quickly climbed to number one on the charts.

     Justin is now 26 years old and married to Hailey Baldwin, and when his last album was released he was recently single from Selena Gomez. 

     Many songs on his last album, Purpose, were a reflection of his relationship with Selena and his mental state, which at the time was going downhill.

     Similarly, his album now reflects his love and relationship with Hailey, and his mental state as well; however, now he has entered a new era of his life, and is looking more on the positive side. 

     His first track is a song called ‘All Around Me’ which is, in my opinion, about Hailey. Lyrics such as “Not sure what I was doin’ before ya” and “I need you all around me’ ‘ resemble her. 

     The next two tracks, ‘Habitual’ and ‘Come Around Me’ are also about love and Hailey in particular. They both say how she saved him in a way, and he is a much better person because of her.

     ‘Intentions’ featuring Quavo is more about how he treats his wife, and how he wants others to treat their significant others. Showering them with attention and complimenting them are his main points.

     To me, it seems like his tracks ‘Available’ and ‘Second Emotion’ featuring Travis Scott are about Justin’s vulnerability with his relationship. He wants to be prioritized and needs reassurance, which he expresses in the two tracks. 

     Another aspect of relationships is fighting. ‘Take It Out On Me’ focuses on how Justin wants Hailey to let her frustrations out, even if that means she has to take them out on him. 

     ‘Yummy’, ‘Running Over’ featuring Lil Dicky and ‘E.T.A.’ are on the more lustful side. ‘Running Over’ talks about the encounters Justin had with Hailey and how they met, which left him wanting more. 

     ‘E.T.A.’ focuses on him wanting to be around Hailey and knowing where she is. ‘Yummy’ was pre-released before his album came out, and it is my least favorite. 

     The song lacks strong verses, and it was not the way I envisioned his new album being, but he did redeem himself with the other songs. 

     Two songs that do not seem to be centered around Hailey are ‘Changes’ and ‘Confirmation’. They are more about Justin’s personal growth. 

     He talks about the changes in his life, how he wants to improve and be better for everyone around him. He also talks about his insecurities and what he needs to work on. 

     His last two songs on the album, ‘That’s What Love Is’ and ‘At Least For Now’ seem to be about Hailey as well. 

     ‘That’s What Love Is’ is the typical love song, and focuses on their love and sacrifices they make for each other. ‘At Least For Now’ is about the more intimate and soft side of their relationship. 

     Lastly, my two personal favorites. ‘Forever’ featuring Post Malone and Clever, and ‘Get Me’ featuring Kehlani. Both songs give off calming and care free vibes, which I love. 

     Overall, Justin Bieber’s new album did not disappoint. It exceeded every expectation, and I love how each track has a different sound and meaning.