Category Archives: Arts & Entertainment

Why I Annotate My Books: A Perspective

Mae Koger

Contributing Writer




As someone who has approximately way too many books, I spend most of my free time reading. An ideal reading experience is that in which the book at hand has vibrant descriptions and an intriguing storyline. As I read, I like to highlight instances of descriptions that I like. I tend to highlight imagery and metaphors most often. In addition to highlighting, I almost always write in the margins as I have thoughts about the development of the story. Sometimes, my writing in the margins is anecdotal such as a memory that had resurfaced as I read or something that had just happened in real life as I read, while other times they are reactions such as a smiley face or “laugh,” or “sadness.”  

The first book I annotated for fun was “Girl in Pieces” by Kathleen Glascow. On the first page, I read the quote that made me place highlighter to the page for the first time: “I remember the stars that night. They were like salt against the sky, like someone spilled the shaker against very dark cloth.” As I read this, I remembered stargazing last summer, in a snow globe of stars that exists only when you are far from the light pollution caused by cities. 

It was two books later that I decided to write about my thoughts on the pages. That book was “The Winemaker’s Wife” by Kristin Harmel. I purchased this book whilst on vacation over winter break because I had forgotten to pack an extra skein of yarn for crocheting purposes. Most of my writing in this book is reactions and predictions, as I did not start writing about memories or events in my life until a few weeks after finishing this book. 

Of the books that I have annotated, my favorites are “The Hobbit” and “Cannery Row,” primarily because of how much I have written on the pages of the books. Something these books have in common is that I was required to read them for English classes in the past, although I am sure that I read summaries on SparkNotes instead of reading them myself. Looking back at my annotations in these novels, it seems as if I wrote about every thought I had while reading. I find that, when I overshare in the margins of my books, I tend to look back over my annotations frequently, which may make rereading more entertaining. 

After having annotated several books, I would say that it is something everyone should try at least once in their life. Writing and highlighting all over my novels has allowed me to stay more focused on reading and be deeply invested in the stories, and this is something that I try to incorporate into my academics when given readings as assignments.

“Abbott Elementary”: Your Latest Source of Joy

Mekdes Shiferaw

A&E Editor



With the recent endings of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “Schitt’s Creek,” you might be in search of a new sitcom to indulge in. Created by comedian Quinta Brunson, “Abbott Elementary” is a new show that follows a group of public-school teachers in West Philadelphia. After the success of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “Parks and Recreation,” here is the long-awaited workplace comedy set in a school. Here are some reasons why you should watch the show.

Quinta Brunson’s mother worked in the Philadelphia city school district for 40 years. Brunson revealed that the show takes inspiration from her mother’s experience as a public servant. Brunson also stated that she named the show after her sixth-grade teacher, Ms. Abbott. She highlighted how teachers do their job not because it is financially rewarding, but because they want to and because they are good at it, too. From the very first episode, we see this essence captured in the seasoned teachers of “Abbott Elementary”—Barbra and Melissa. When Brunson’s character Janine faced her first obstacle at her job, Barbra and Melissa reminded her that being a teacher is “a calling.” In the decades they served the school, they have had to be the social workers and second parents to the kids. Working outside of the system to get things done comes with the job.


“Abbott Elementary” is a testament to the idea that television does not have to be cheesy or adapt some sort of consciousness to be entertaining and engaging. For a show that follows underpaid public-school teachers, it navigates the space with great care to avoid negative depictions of the overworked educator. It is not trying to become anything or fulfill diversity quotas. Brunson makes it clear in her creative direction that the show is comedy. The show is funny despite existing in the space that it does. Moreover, the (elementary) kids in the show are allowed to just be kids. No ulterior motive. Additionally, the kids are not trained actors—the authenticity depicted is real and natural. The need to have to go through a traumatic event in order to build character development is deeply flawed. I, for one, am consistently appreciative of shows that do not commodify trauma and actively make creative decisions to celebrate humanity. “Abbott Elementary” does so by celebrating the joyful childhood of the tiny humans and nothing more. You can watch “Abbott Elementary” every Wednesday on Hulu.

Wooster’s Symphony Orchestra: Music To Our Ears

Ellen McAllister

Creative Editor


            The College of Wooster Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Professor Jeffery Lindberg, had its first concert of the semester on Friday, Feb. 25, followed by another performance on Saturday, Feb. 26. The orchestra is composed of students from the College as well as members of the community who would like the chance to continue to play their instruments. Together, the group performed four pieces, three of which featured senior student solos, where the orchestra accompanied the soloists as they performed in Gault Recital Hall at Scheide Music Center. 

            Soloing first on the cello was Grace Robinson ’22 with “Concerto No. 1 in A Minor for Violoncello and Orchestra, Op. 33” composed by Camille Saint-Saëns. Robinson has been playing the cello since she was five years old. While she isn’t a music major and just participates in the orchestra for fun, she reflected on her experience in the orchestra. “I feel super grateful for all of the opportunities I have been given both by the orchestra and the music department as a whole. I really love playing cello, and being in the orchestra has allowed me to continue that passion alongside my academic pursuits.” Robinson remarked that there are lots of little elements of a concert that can be nerve-wracking—wearing fancy long dresses and having to know whose hand to shake and what the correct concert etiquette is—but once the performance starts, she said that is when the fun actually begins. 

            “Élégie for Violoncello and Orchestra, Op. 24” written by Gabriel Fauré gave Zoe Dudack ’22 the chance to present her skills on the cello to the audience. Since most of the orchestra rehearsals don’t consist of the whole group, Dudack says she loves the two-week period before a performance when all the members of the orchestra come together to play, noting that it makes the pieces a lot more fun. When asked what type of music she likes to play, Dudack said that she prefers a variety and doesn’t like to stick to just one style, as she has discovered some of her favorite music that way. Dudack added that she loves playing with her co-principal, Grace Robinson, because “she makes rehearsals a great time.” 

Clare Griffith ’22 was the last of the student soloists and chose to play the first movement of “Concerto in D Major for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 35” by Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky on violin, with the help of the orchestra that added depth to the piece. Griffith chose this piece as part of her audition process for grad school but noted that it is important to play pieces that you enjoy playing and feel connected to. She memorized the entire piece and said that it “was a beast to memorize because Tchaikovsky kind of lays traps everywhere where it can be super easy to mess up;” however, she also loves the piece because of its complexity. Being the concertmaster of the orchestra has allowed her to form great connections with the other members, especially those in the string section.

After a brief intermission, the concert finished off with the entire orchestra, including the three soloists, playing a final piece called “Variations on a Theme by Haydn Op. 56a” written by Johannes Brahms. The piece was a combination of nine smaller variations with pauses in-between each and was a great culmination of all the sounds and pieces heard previously. 

Keep an eye out for more information about the orchestra’s next concert later this spring to see the group perform again and hear more beautiful classical music. 

Thawing Out a Frozen Gem: “Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze”

Michael Curran

Contributing Writer


Originally released on Wii U in 2014, “Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze,” while rated highly by reviewers, never got the same limelight as it proceeded to get when it was rereleased on the Switch. It’s important to remember what made “Tropical Freeze” so damn good in the first place. It’s a side-scrolling platformer featuring Donkey, Diddy, Dixie and Cranky Kong as playable characters, but the story is rather simple. It’s DK’s birthday and he’s with his friends Diddy and Dixie, as well as his grandpa Cranky there to celebrate.

“Tropical Freeze” has six main worlds and one secret world with 63 levels total. Each world has a particular theme and each level gushes with colorful backgrounds and excellent level design. The soundtrack is boosted by the return of the great composer David Wise, who composed the original trilogy’s soundtrack to much acclaim. It has a great level design logistically and artistically. But there’s one component about “Tropical Freeze” that often goes unnoticed: it is made for speed. There is an option for each level, Time Attack, that, depending on your pace, allows you to earn a shiny gold, gold, silver or bronze medal. You can then upload your time to the worldwide leaderboards.

Levels are specifically designed for the player that likes to go fast. Watch any Time Attack of a level that’s at shiny gold pace and you’ll see that enemies are conveniently placed so that the player can move swiftly to the next platform or section. That is not an accident. Each level, if you’re speedrunning, has a particular rhythm that is pretty hard to get, but when you do, it feels amazing. The trick lies a lot with DK’s ability to roll, a powerful move. Not only can you roll into an array of enemies, but it can build momentum for jumps. DK on his own can only roll a short distance but nevertheless helps out your jumping when you don’t have a buddy. But if you have a buddy, you can roll as long as you like.

Whether speedrunning or not, you can easily tell a novice player from an experienced player based on whether they know how to apply rolling effectively. You can roll jump in midair like in “Returns” and the original trilogy. This means that if you roll off a ledge, you have a window in which you can jump in midair. Overall, movement is very fluid and fun. There is one last major control feature to touch upon: swimming.

With “Tropical Freeze,” swimming returns after its hiatus in “Returns.” Swimming is, by far, more tolerable and smooth than the Mario platformers. By pressing the dash button, DK (or his buddies) twist through the water and get a boost of speed. For more precise swimming, pressing the jump button causes DK to do breast strokes. So, swimming is actually not that bad and handled pretty well in “Tropical Freeze.”

Finally, exclusive to the Switch version, we must talk about the new Funky Mode. In this mode, you can play as Funky Kong. Funky has seven hearts, can breathe underwater indefinitely, land on spikes, roll indefinitely and has a mid-air jump and stand-still hover. Funky Mode is designed for less experienced players. You can choose between original mode and Funky Mode when starting a new save file but you have to stick with your choice for the whole campaign. Fortunately, there are three save files. While Funky Mode is not my preference and takes a bit away from the challenge in my opinion, it’s a good addition for less experienced players and is still fun overall.

“Tropical Freeze” is arguably a bit underrated. It was one of the best platformers on the Wii U and is one of the best on the Switch. It faithfully retains the quality of the original DK trilogy and is an improvement over “Returns.” If you give “Tropical Freeze” a play. I doubt you’ll regret it.

2022 Oscar Nominations: Reactions and Predictions

Colin Tobin

Chief Copy Editor


The nominees for the 2022 Academy Awards were announced on Tuesday, Feb. 8, which means it’s officially awards season in Hollywood. Jane Campion’s “The Power of the Dog” racked up the most nominations this year with twelve, followed by “Dune” with 10 and both “Belfast” and “West Side Story” with seven. Surprisingly, 10 films were nominated for Best Picture, something that hasn’t happened since 2010, including “Belfast,” “CODA,” “Don’t Look Up,” “Drive My Car,” “Dune,” “King Richard,” “Licorice Pizza,” “Nightmare Alley,” “The Power of the Dog” and “West Side Story.” Personally, I would’ve loved to see “tick, tick…BOOM!” or “The Tragedy of Macbeth” make the cut, but overall, I’d say it’s a solid lineup.

Easily the biggest surprise of the announcements was the recognition of Ruysuke Hamaguchi’s “Drive My Car,” a Japanese film about grief explored through a theater director and his unraveling realizations about his relationship with his late wife. It picked up four nominations: Best Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay and International Feature Film, becoming one of the few films not in English to be considered for Best Picture. Guillermo del Toro’s noir remake “Nightmare Alley” also managed to sneak in with four nominations. After a more-than-lackluster box office performance that seemed to have gone under the radar, this unique film managed to surprise everyone.

The most shocking snub this year was “Dune” director Denis Villeneuve’s exclusion from the Best Director category, a spot that many considered to be a lock. It doesn’t make sense that a film with ten nominations for Best Picture, Production Design, Editing, Visual Effects, etc. didn’t get one more for the guy who coordinated all of it. Other snubs that I would have liked to have been recognized are the cinematography in “The Green Knight,” Jodie Comer in “The Last Duel,” Rachel Zegler in “West Side Story” and the production design and score in “The French Dispatch” (and, for fun, Andrew Garfield [potential spoilers] for his performance in every interview he’s done in the past six months denying rumors that he would appear in “Spider-Man: No Way Home”).

As far as my predictions in the major categories go, there are a lot that are as close to certain as you can get, starting with “The Power of the Dog.” This has been the clear frontrunner for Best Picture, Director and Adapted Screenplay for a few months now, and it would honestly be a deserving winner in each category. Best Actor is a lot harder to predict as it seems to be a close race between Benedict Cumberbatch, Will Smith and Andrew Garfield. I’d love to see Garfield win, but it would be nice to watch Will Smith get his first Oscar in his already-legendary career. Kristen Stewart should win for her performance in “Spencer,” but knowing the Academy, they’ll probably be boring and give it to Nicole Kidman for “Being the Ricardos.” First-time nominees Kodi Smit-McPhee (“The Power of the Dog”) and Ariana DeBose (“West Side Story”) are, deservedly, the frontrunners in the Supporting Actor/Actress categories. And finally, Best Original Screenplay looks like a close race between frequent nominees, but not yet winners, Paul Thomas Anderson and Kenneth Branagh for “Licorice Pizza” and “Belfast,” respectively. I wasn’t a massive fan of either of these films, but if I had to pick, I’d probably choose “Belfast,” although I could see it going either way.

While the nominations are never going to please everyone, the Academy is finally showing steps in diversifying its voters and nominees while also starting to give proper recognition to non-English language films. In the end, do awards mean anything? Not really. But it’s always nice to see deserving people get recognized for their work, regardless of where that work comes from or its box office returns.

This year’s Oscars will be held on Sunday, March 27 and will be hosted by Amy Schumer, Regina Hall and Wanda Sykes.

“Laurel Hell” Review: The Tragedy of Mitski and Her Art

Andy Mockbee

Contributing Writer


“Sometimes I think I am free,” singer-songwriter Mitski Miyawaki remarks in her sixth studio album. Her voice wilts as she finishes the couplet: “until I find I’m back in line again.” The artist has long asserted that she frequently addresses her songs to a personified concept of music. On previous records, she often sang to this vague “you” in service of expressing the desires and conflicts within herself. Opener to her album “Be The Cowboy,” “Geyser” presented her relationship to making music as a romantic one to express the overwhelming role art plays in her identity. However, Mitski articulates this relationship in disrepair. Returning to 80s-inspired synths and showy disco, Mitski’s dazzling sixth album shines like a silver-screen tragedy featuring the codependent relationship between an artist and her art.

The sound of “Laurel Hell” digs deeper into the disco-tinged pop of previous hits “Nobody” and “Washing Machine Heart.” The primary difference this time around is the added theatrics. “Stay Soft” is instrumentally aligned to the former, but Mitski’s vocals are more playful and expressive than ever, dipping and soaring like a show-tune. “Should’ve Been Me” sounds like if ABBA covered Hall and Oates’ “Maneater,” but Mitski’s stellar vocals and profound lyricism make it all her own. The track, alongside “The Only Heartbreaker,” follows in a long-running theme in Mitski’s work of not being what someone had hoped for. Previously, such as in “Goodbye My Danish Sweetheart,” Mitski articulated this with a softer resignation. Here, however, there is a distinct frustration beneath the surface—the artist seems to simmer within the confines of the work. This will make sense to anyone witness to the meteoric uprise Mitski has seen in her career over the past two years. More people than ever were observing her, leading to many asserting claims over the artist’s humanity. This is more evident than ever in a video of Mitski reading tweets about herself. The singer became clearly uncomfortable at the reductive labeling of “sad girl music.” 

The connection to an audience is only a small portion of this album’s nuance. “Heat Lightning” is a more somber folk track in which the artist commits herself and her stability completely to music. The chorus takes this devotion to an almost religious level, subtextually recognizing it as overreliance. As the album reaches its final destination, it becomes clear to Mitski that her relationship with making music cannot sustain if they continue this codependent path. The penultimate track, “I Guess” is a sparse piano ballad thanking music for what it has given her, followed by a unique closer for the artist. “That’s Our Lamp” features upbeat pop, but the lyrical content paints a grimmer picture. “We may be ending / I’m standing in the dark / Looking up into our room / Where you’ll be waiting for me” she sings. As the track blossoms into noise, the audience is left wondering whether the couple are done for good. But after the disrepair she grapples with on her excellent sixth album, will Mitski return to answer its call?