The North Star http://opsnorthstar.com The student news site of Omaha North High Magnet School Fri, 23 Oct 2020 13:22:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.3 “It’s the Great Disappointment”: Charlie Brown holiday specials will now only be shown exclusively on Apple TV+. http://opsnorthstar.com/5158/news/its-the-great-disappointment-charlie-brown-holiday-specials-will-now-only-be-shown-exclusively-on-apple-tv/ http://opsnorthstar.com/5158/news/its-the-great-disappointment-charlie-brown-holiday-specials-will-now-only-be-shown-exclusively-on-apple-tv/#respond Fri, 23 Oct 2020 13:22:26 +0000 http://opsnorthstar.com/?p=5158 Since 1966, Charles Schulz’s “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” has been airing on nationwide television every October. The 25-minute-long episode originally aired on CBS, and later moved to ABC.

According to Fox 13 channel news of Utah, as of 2020, the episode will air on Apple’s “Apple TV+,” starting October 19.

Apple TV+ announced their acquiring of the show in a tweet on Monday October 19 that said, “Stream ‘It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown’ exclusively on Apple TV+ and get ready for more Peanuts specials this holiday season.”

The Halloween Charlie Brown special has been aired annually as well as “A Charlie Brown Valentine” (2001), “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” (1973) and “A Charlie Brown Christmas” (1965).

Apple TV+ has also bought the rights to the Thanksgiving and Christmas specials, which have also been shown annually since 1972 and 1965, respectfully.

According to NBC News, Apple TV has selected a few days in each month for each special to be free for anyone. After that, viewers must subscribe to Apple TV+ for $4.99 a month.

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Disclosure brings the “ENERGY” http://opsnorthstar.com/5156/entertainment/disclosure-brings-the-energy/ http://opsnorthstar.com/5156/entertainment/disclosure-brings-the-energy/#respond Thu, 22 Oct 2020 17:02:30 +0000 http://opsnorthstar.com/?p=5156 “ENERGY” is the 3rd album by British electronic dance pop group, Disclosure, a duo of brothers named Howard and Guy Lawrence.  

“ENERGY” is the group’s first project since their chart topping, Grammy nominated sophomore album, “Caracal”, which released in 2015. 

“ENERGY” exists as an extremely bright, vivid, boisterous body of music in arguably one of the most arduous times because of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, they released the project anyways so that the “positive messages” could be shared, according to Disclosure. 

“ENERGY” is an album with incredible color, buoyancy, and is incredibly textured. Just like any electronic and dance album, the focus is on layered production, driving and pulsating drums, and more air for the production to breathe by limiting vocals to more of a side role.  

The first three tracks do start the album on a less than ideal note though. “Watch Your Step” has colorful and vibrant rifts, and while the production is constantly in motion and has this easy to follow drive. It is vocally vapid however with a really simple, but ultimately non-impactful chorus and the vocals sound muddied and compressed, it’s like painting with every detail right in the background but the foreground lacks focus and is not unpleasant, but you can see the potential it wastes.  

That’s the same story for “Lavender”, featuring Channel Tres and “My High”, featuring Britin rapper slowthai and American rapper Amine. Both have incredibly varied and bouncy production that laps the vocals because they exhibit so much more color, energy, and overall care. It’s easy to understand that each one of these 3 are club bangers that you can throw on and they give the parties an exorbitant amount of vibrant colors, aggressive drums and booming easy to follow choruses, but the novelty doesn’t warrant repeat listens. 

“Luckily, Who Knew” and “Doucha (Mali Mali)” have an inescapable groove and really give the album an exciting pulse with slick build ups and bridges, tone changing but rewarding African influences that give “ENERGY” a new sound to play with, and a kaleidoscope of color that envelopes the listener. One lofi inspired interlude in “Fractal (Interlude)” that deescalates the higher octane first part of this album and we arrive at the worst song on “ENERGY” by a mile. 

“Ce n’est pas” is such a drag of a song. It is six minutes of the most vapid and uninspired beat, a repetitive and boring chorus with almost vapid vocals the whole time. It is a song without color in an album that boosts its huge catalog of enveloping and rewarding song that surround you in color and energy, pun intended. 

The title track ENERGY completely reignites the anything “Ce n’est pas” does to harm the albums progress though. The title track uses booming tribal drums, an aggressively potent vocal sample and tons of production drops make this track have incredible movement and bounce. 

 After another lofi interlude “ENERGY” finally hits its stride with the airy and poppy “Birthday”. A song about questioning what to do with broken relationship but stays bright and expressive with objectively best vocal performance any lyrics on the album, its calming in the truest sense and the original track list ends on “Reveria”.  

Another track that is more lowkey, cozy, and warm like” Birthday” but it has a verse from legendary rapper Common and ends the original track list on an upbeat, calm, but mostly gratifying feeling. 

“ENERGY” starts out rocky, the first couple tracks are inoffensive but not as gratifying as the second half of the album. But songs like “ENERGY”, “My High”, and “Birthday” and other tracks are such visceral highs that a track like “Ce n’est pas” can’t bring it down. Overall Disclosures 3rd studio album ENERGY gets a 7/10.  

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Laura leaves Louisiana leveled http://opsnorthstar.com/5131/news/laura-leaves-louisiana-leveled/ http://opsnorthstar.com/5131/news/laura-leaves-louisiana-leveled/#respond Wed, 21 Oct 2020 01:51:26 +0000 http://opsnorthstar.com/?p=5131 If you only had a short amount of time to decide what you wanted to keep and what would get destroyed from your house, what would you take? Many people faced this tough decision in Louisiana this year. On August 27, 2020, Hurricane Laura made landfall near Cameron, LA as a category 4 hurricane reaching winds of 150 mph. Shortly after making landfall, Hurricane Laura weakened to a category 2 storm, but still reached winds of 110 mph.  

Most of the state experienced strong winds that caused trees and telephone poles to fall over, along with some roofs being torn apart. Cameron, LA, where Laura hit the hardest, is on the Southwest side of Louisiana near Texas. It experienced worse damage than any other impacted area, with entire buildings being destroyed by the storm.  

This being so, most of the deaths did not occur there. Four deaths were reported immediately after the storm on August 27. All four fatalities are north or northwest of where Laura hit.  

All were related to trees falling on residences, which is in line with this being a major wind event,” said Governor John Bel Edwards, governor of Louisiana. The following day, two more deaths were reported in Calcasieu Parish, LA, which is in the southwest of Louisiana, just above Cameron, LA. 

Along with buildings and trees being destroyed, power and flooding were also an issue. While flooding is always something to look out for during a hurricane, according to The Washington Post, “the storm brought little flooding and fewer rescue calls than feared.” 

On the other hand, no matter what type of natural disaster, power is always one of the first things affected. CNN also stated that 317,000 residents in Louisiana and 77,000 in Texas were without power as of August 27.  

Brianna Garcia, a resident of Columbia, LA, said, “We did lose electricity for several days. My mom and I went to visit family in Arkansas as we waited for the electricity to return.”  

Westlake, Louisiana experienced not only power outages, but a chemical fire as well. After Hurricane Laura passed through the city, it caused a biolab plant that was previously shut down due to caustic smoke to start a fire.  

“Isabelle Pierre, general counsel for KIK Custom Products, which owns Biolab, confirmed that the facility is the source of the fire. The facility manufactures trichloroisocyanuric acid, chlorinating granules and other specialty blends for products such as the household cleanser Comet and Clorox pool chlorine,” said The Washington Post. 

With the help of many organizations such as The Red Cross, Project HOPE, Save the Children, Global Giving and more, Louisiana is receiving relief. With the danger of the coronavirus pandemic also affecting people, volunteers are handing out masks along with all of the living necessities that are typically handed out during a hurricane.  

Garcia said, “It was a stressful time in the moment, but I am blessed to say that our home and we were safe and weren’t greatly affected during this tragic time.” Many families are starting to recover from the disaster, but it will still take time to get the state back to the way it was. 

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Omaha North teacher, Mark Gudgel, announces his mayoral candidacy http://opsnorthstar.com/5122/features/omaha-north-teacher-mark-gudgel-announces-his-mayoral-candidacy/ http://opsnorthstar.com/5122/features/omaha-north-teacher-mark-gudgel-announces-his-mayoral-candidacy/#respond Thu, 01 Oct 2020 12:59:23 +0000 http://opsnorthstar.com/?p=5122 Omaha North High School has produced its fair share of household names, Niles Paul, Justin Patton, Houston Alexander, but one teacher in particular wants to add his name to the list. Mark Gudgel has announced his run for mayor. 

Born in Valentine, NE, Gudgel spent most of his young life 300 miles from Omaha. In 1999, he moved to Lincoln to further his education at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. After 10 years of teaching and a wedding, he relocated to Omaha, where he began teaching at North High Magnet School.  

 Since moving, Gudgel has served Omaha North as a teacher, coach, and club sponsor for seven years, for a total of 17 years in education and in service to young people. However, he says the pandemic has made him feel, like many others in his position, brand new to the field. 

 Gudgel said that becoming a politician was something he hadn’t thought much about, until he saw the state of the local government and the lack of leadership taking place when the citizens needed it most. As a Nebraska native and longtime Omaha resident, Gudgel acknowledged there was a need for change that could only be accomplished through reimagining what governing could look like.   

 I’ve always told my students; your anger is a gift. So, you have to channel it into something productive,” Gudgel said. 

 Which is exactly what he did. Gudgel says the thought of running for office had come up a few times, but his friends encouraged him to finally make the idea a reality. 

 Although Gudgel has no past experience in politics, he believes that his extensive experience in education has been extremely influential in the way he sees the world and will continue to influence him as he moves on to this new opportunity. 

 Gudgel expressed the qualities that he feels make him fit for the job, “I have spent my life in service to young people, while the setting and office may change, the service aspect of it doesn’t.  

 Instead of viewing this candidacy as a potential personal gain, Gudgel sees it as a chance to continue his life as a public servant, and believes that anyone who is running that doesn’t think of it that way is not someone he wants in office.  

 Gudgel detailed policies of other cities that he admires and would possibly want to implement to Omaha, such as a refugee onboarding program that would act as an orientation to the city for incoming refugee families, so the transition would not be as difficult.  

 This potential plan is reflected in Gudgel’s ultimate goal of uniting people for the greater good.  

“I think we have a lot of great communities. I want to see us become a great community,”Gudgel vocalized his plans for Omaha. 

  This desire for a sense of togetherness can also be seen in some of his other community-oriented plans.  

 If he is to be elected, Gudgel said he really just wants to be visible as mayor and show he is involved with and dedicated to the city. His willingness to listen is another point of his campaign that he wants to make known.  

 “I don’t want people to think of it as City Hall, I want people to think of it as Mark, “He pledges to do his part to make city hall an accessible place where people are encouraged to reach out and communicate their concerns.  

 Gudgel also acknowledges that there will be people who he does not necessarily share the same views as, and he wants to assure the citizens that he will offer his time to engage in civil conversations. He believes there is nothing to be learned while on the defensive and aims to make sure to hear all parties without preparing defenses immediately.  

 As for home life, Gudgel has emphasized the importance of family time and keeping a healthy work/home balance. He and his staff utilize a calendar available to all to make time management easier and more efficient. Gudgel said his wife, Sonja, also had access to the calendar, and joked that if she blocked off time for family, that he was busy and that was the final words. 

 “When you’re working for the greater good and towards a greater purpose, it all seems worth it” Gudgel said as he has never felt busier, but knows it will pay off in the end as he is doing what it takes for something he is very passionate about.  

 Gudgel says that in other aspects of his life, such as his work at North, that being elected would be bitter sweet.  

 “To say that North has been a big part of my life is an understatement of hyperbolic proportions,” Gudgel expressed on his love for his profession. 

 Although he may be out of his classroom and in a new office, he promises that he will continue to have a vested interest in what is going on at North. 

 One thing Gudgel wants to make known is that he doesn’t claim to know all the answers, but he is willing to learn and have his mind changed, if that’s what will provide the best experiences to the people of Omaha. 

 For those wanting to learn more about Mark Gudgel’s campaign at gudgelformayor.com, or keep up with new information as it comes out by looking into the podcast and newsletter, titled This Week in Omaha.

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Unprecedented times lead to unprecedented sacrifices http://opsnorthstar.com/5118/uncategorized/unprecedented-times-lead-to-unprecedented-sacrifices/ http://opsnorthstar.com/5118/uncategorized/unprecedented-times-lead-to-unprecedented-sacrifices/#comments Sun, 10 May 2020 20:44:56 +0000 http://opsnorthstar.com/?p=5118 The city and hospital where this is located is purposely left out in addition to the last name to protect the source.  

Aside from the sliver of sun in the horizon, the sky remains dark. There are few cars in the parking garage but even fewer on the streets. As they walk into another 12-hour shift, large makeshift triage tents, where they assess COVID-19 patients from most critical to least critical, pass their vision. They see the refrigerator truck parked in the loading dock that will act as a makeshift morgue should the need arise. There are lines of workers waiting to go through body temperature scanners. The basement of the hospital is lined with broken ICU beds, where nurses who cannot go home sleep.  

The hallways are empty. There are no families or visitors. The unit is solemn. There is no more joking that gets them through a shift. The tension can be sliced with a knife. The mask goes on and another battle begins.  

This is life now for thousands of healthcare workers. From sunup to sundown, they spend their days chipping away at an iceberg with no end in sight.  

What once were 8-hour shifts have turned into 12 or even 16-hour shifts. The body aches from 16 hours on their feet are the least of their worries. There are bruises on the bridges of their noses. Headaches from the tension. However, the majority of the pain comes from the situation.  

The long hours and extra shifts add to the stress on their bodies. It is hard to eat a good meal or drink the adequate amount of water when a nurse is running from patient to patient. There are no families, so nurses have the obligation to become that hand to hold. In this line of work, they are accustomed to death, but no one could foresee the rising death tolls of COVID-19 related deaths. While nurses know the challenges that come with being a nurse, this pandemic brings up new challenges and exacerbates old challenges. 

For nurses like Jaimie, an ICU nurse at a hospital in a hotspot city, she was always able to relieve herself of what happened that day when she went home to her family. For several weeks of this pandemic, she was left to come home to an empty house.  

It was early on in this pandemic that personal protective gear (PPE) began to run thin. 

The ICU that Jaimie worked at has turned into a COVID-19 ICU where they are primarily treating severe COVID-19 patients.  

Two weeks ago, the nurses were given one N-95 mask and asked to keep it in a plastic specimen bag. This is the only form of mask that is known to filter out COVID-19 particles due to the respirator and the seal on it. They are meant to be thrown away after use. Several days later, the protocol changed to a surgical mask on top of the N-95 mask, in order to protect the few N-95 masks left.  

“All of these things once banned by the CDC are now being approved. It feels wrong. I am lucky enough because I have some N-95’s that family gave me that will last me a little while,” Jaimie said.  

At this current time, she is forced to wear a size medium mask, even though she is a small. That is on the rare occasion that she can get an N-95 mask. This makes it so that there is no seal to the face, meaning it is not fully protecting against COVID-19 particles. She uses surgical masks and bonnets made by family to protect herself once the PPE ran out. Her glasses act as a makeshift face shield. In this case, something is better than nothing. 

“We should have been more ready than this,” Jaimie said. 

Under these conditions, Jaimie is exposing herself to the virus every shift. She could get the virus at any one of her shifts and bring it home to her family, unknowingly. Because of this, she felt that she was left with no other option to protect her family but have them leave until the situation lessens.  

This meant Jaimie had to say goodbye to her eight-year-old son and almost six-month-old baby girl. 

The day she made the decision her husband asked her ‘is this worth it? What if we say goodbye to you now and we say goodbye for good? Are you doing this for the money or for the oath you took?’ 

“That is what the oath is for, times like this. You don’t see nurses taking the easy way out. You didn’t sign up to be a nurse and not do this,” Jaimie said.  

When Jaimie went to work on her next shift, she said goodbye to her family and when she came home, the house was empty.  

Jaimie is not the only nurse to make this decision. Many nurses do not have a place they or their families can go so they sleep in their cars or on broken ICU beds. They may live too far from the hospital and do not have enough time to go home and come back.  

Yet, they are not only sacrificing their physical health and their families, but healthcare workers must also sacrifice their mental wellbeing. 

“Of course, we see patients that pass, but it’s weighing on us to see one after the next. It seems like every five minutes that we hear another COVID patient is tanking. We try to forget when we come home,” Jaimie said.  

For those long weeks Jaimie came home to no one, she would spend her days off on a video call laughing with her baby or doing virtual school with her son. Recently after several weeks of being away, Jaimie had to make another decision to let them come back home. The distance between them was taking a toll on her baby’s health. 

Jaimie said that see feels like she missed a lot in those few weeks. Her six-month-old has become more vocal and flips over all the time.  

“There was a moment where she didn’t seem to recognize me. And that was heartbreaking to know that I put her in that position,” said Jaimie. 

With the new living arrangement, Jaimie wears a mask when in contact with her family, and distances herself. 

“My son keeps talking about ‘I wish we could hug’ or ‘Can we hug after you shower?’ How do you tell your eight-year-old son, who isn’t going to want to hug you for much longer, ‘no we can’t [hug]’? It’s heartbreaking,” Jaimie said. 

One of the hardest parts for healthcare workers in this position is not seeing that light at the end of the tunnel. They are making sacrifices without knowing when the end of it all will come. Jaimie explains that it is up to everyone to make small sacrifices, so they do not have to make any more large sacrifices.  

 “The people who don’t [self-isolate] are just making our jobs harder.  They are dragging out the time that we have to be away from our children and cannot hug them,” Jaimie said. 

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OPS does not grade work over COVID-19 closure http://opsnorthstar.com/5116/news/ops-does-not-grade-work-over-covid-19-closure/ http://opsnorthstar.com/5116/news/ops-does-not-grade-work-over-covid-19-closure/#respond Sat, 18 Apr 2020 20:48:00 +0000 http://opsnorthstar.com/?p=5116 On March 15th, 2020, Omaha Public Schools (OPS) announced school would be closed to slow the spread of the outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). This came after the federal government released social distancing guidelines of no more than 50 people should gather in one place. 

Since then, every school district in Nebraska has been closed by an executive order of the Governor for the rest of the 2019-2020 school year as the federal government has banned public gatherings of more than 10 people through April 30th. 

With schools closed, many students and parents are left wondering what the next steps will be. 

In an email to students, Melissa Comine, Chief Academic Officer for OPS, said, “The work completed during third quarter before our district closure will be used to determine second semester grades for the 2019-2020 school year.” 

However, Comine continued, “Because of such unprecedented circumstances, students may work with their classroom teacher to complete or redo work turned in before spring break to improve their final grade.” 

As far as state requirements go, the Nebraska Board of Education has waived state testing and hours in school requirements of Nebraska schools. 

“Education rules and regulations should be your last concern. You cannot make bad decisions right now if you are focused on the safety, well-being, and basic needs of your children and communities,” Matt Blomstedt, Commissioner of the Nebraska Board of Education said. 

All school districts, however, will be required to provide the state a plan of how they will continue learning during the closures. 

Lynne Smith, assistant principal at North High, said that teachers will be sending “enrichment activities once a week to all students,” through Office365. 

These activities will not be graded. 

In a survey of 134 North High students, 69% are not motivated to do their new schoolwork during the closure. Of those, a 42% plurality is not motivated because the work is not graded. 

One student responded, “[It isn’t graded], it doesn’t seem worth it.” 

Jeremy Maskel, communications director for OPS, said that teachers are expected to be checking their email or using another platform to “keep in touch with their classes.” 

According to data provided by North, 90.8 percent of North students have been issued a one to one device and should have access to school email. 

Despite this, about 15% of North students surveyed said that the program the district is putting forward is “unorganized” or they aren’t receiving the support they need to succeed. 

One student surveyed wrote, “I’m a hands-on learner, so without teachers I don’t feel motivated at all.” 

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Medical Police: Netflix’s Most Recent Medical-Action Parody http://opsnorthstar.com/5094/entertainment/medical-police-netflixs-most-recent-medical-action-parody/ http://opsnorthstar.com/5094/entertainment/medical-police-netflixs-most-recent-medical-action-parody/#respond Wed, 26 Feb 2020 18:08:25 +0000 http://opsnorthstar.com/?p=5094 Medical Police, a Netflix original that premiered on January 10th of this year, is an ironic parody of the highly popular, over-dramatized shows that portray life as a doctor or police officer. Shows like Greys Anatomy, Bones, The Good Doctor, Law and Order, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and Chicago P.D. have become increasingly popular, and as a result, shows like Medical Police have spawned a new genre of intentionally exaggerated plotlines and acting. 

The series follows the life of Dr. Lola Spratt (Erinn Hayes) and her partner, Dr. Owen Maestro (Rob Huebel), two pediatric doctors from São Paulo, Brazil, trying to stop the spread of a deadly virus. The pair travel across the world to various locations like Berlin, Italy, Florida, Latvia, Shanghai, and Bhutan where they meet several interesting people played by popular actors and personalities such as Michael Cera, Randall Park, Jon Hamm, Tom Wright, Craig Robinson, and YouTube personality and late-night show host Lilly Singh. 

The plot begins when Lola Spratt sees two patients with similar rashes on their necks. After making the connection to a possible unknown disease, CDC secret agent, Sloan McIntire, leads Spratt and her partner, Owen Maestro, to a secret CDC lab and tasks them with finding the origin of the virus and a way to cure it. The first episode came off as almost stilted, with unnatural dialogue and attempted irony that didn’t come through as intended. 

After that, Spratt and Maestro’s journey takes many unexpected turns involving identical twins, plaster face masks to hack facial recognition, dramatic poker games, and Chinese prisons. The pair also (as expected) gets together in episode eight, after an incredibly awkward encounter where they realized their hotel room had only one bed. 

Towards the end of the series, Lola reunites with her college virology professor, who work together to recover Spratt’s thesis which may contain a way to develop a cure for the virus. The search for the laptop containing the copy of her thesis involves a bidding war over a desk with a wealthy baroness and running from bioterrorists who have overtaken the São Paulo Childrens Hospital. When the thesis is finally found, the laptop is shot and destroyed, requiring another way to recover her thesis. 

Luckily, Owen Maestro has been working on an experimental procedure to recover lost memories. He operates on Spratt in a hidden room in the hospital. Lola has a vivid hallucination of her virology professor and remembers that she had the cure to the virus tattooed on her arm the whole time. 

The style is very reminiscent of shows like The Santa Clarita Diet, with its sarcastic tone and deadpan humor. Several small stylistic elements, such as slightly repetitive dialogue and timing help the irony land more soundly. However, there were many instances where the attempted style of humor didn’t come through, and it came off as poorly scripted with unnatural acting. 

Although I don’t expect any upcoming Emmy nominations, Medical Police is a quippy and amusing show that is short enough to finish in a weekend with only ten twenty-minute episodes, and it isn’t too complex to watch while texting or working on something else. The humor can occasionally come across as forced and contrived, but just a few of the show’s redeeming qualities are the brief appearances by popular actors and the deadpan ironic style that we don’t usually see in medical/police dramas. Unless the show gains unexpected popularity, I don’t believe Medical Police will be renewed for a second season, but I would recommend it as a casual show to watch if you need ideas. 

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“Music to Be Murdered By” Murders Ears http://opsnorthstar.com/5092/entertainment/music-to-be-murdered-by-murders-ears/ http://opsnorthstar.com/5092/entertainment/music-to-be-murdered-by-murders-ears/#respond Mon, 24 Feb 2020 18:20:14 +0000 http://opsnorthstar.com/?p=5092 Rapper Eminem, whose real name is Marshall Mathers, released a surprise album once again. “Music to be Murdered By,” was released on Friday January 17, 2020. This follow-up album to 2018’s “Kamikaze,” which was also released without a warning, was announced on his Twitter just after midnight. He borrowed the title and cover art for “Music to Be Murdered By” from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 macabre album of the same name. 

Eminem’s 11th studio album, “Music to Be Murdered By,” contains 20 new tracks with a runtime of 1 hour and four minutes. The rap legend may have embraced and taken advantage of an era where streaming is at an all-time high but doesn’t take notice of the short attention spans. 

The album begins with “Premonition (Intro),” a song that slams the critics who slammed Kamikaze, which began with a track that slams critics who slammed “Revival. Eminem is angry because after over 20 years in the rap game and countless album sales he still doesn’t get the respect he feels he deserves. One issue is that he keeps on going back to year-old grudges.  

The problem for him lately is that proving oneself is just a matter of “spitting bars.” He does this on “You Gon’ Learn” (featuring Royce da 5’9” and White Gold) and the rest of “Music to Be Murdered By” with precision. Most of his verses follow the same design. He opens the track with slow taunts, he then finds the flow and begins rhyming words just to rhyme, and finally he jumps into his well-known hyper speed flow that requires a read-through from Genius to understand what he’s saying. 

Over half of the songs sound like nothing on rap charts right now, which isn’t meant to be a compliment. The verses on “Stepdad” make for a murder fantasy but the singsong chorus sounds like it’s trying to parody itself. The features of pop artists only worsen this, for example, Skylar Grey adds a mellow vibe to the rap-rock song “Leaving Heaven,” and Ed Sheeran does the same with “Those Kinda Nights,” which clearly sounds like a remold of Liam Payne and Quavo’s song “Strip That Down.” 

Eminem has taken pop-rap songs to the number one spot on charts with tracks “Love the Way You Lie” and “The Monster,” both featuring Rihanna, but this strategy makes no sense on an album whose sound and aesthetic are obviously meant to re-establish him as a shock-rap artist. 

One good thing is that “Music to Be Murdered By” does have a good number of lyrics that are bound to make headlines. He uses the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing on “Unaccommodating (featuring Young M.A).” He raps, “But I’m contemplating yelling ‘Bombs away’ on the game, like I’m outside of an Ariana Grande concert waiting.” This is because he’s going to “kill the rap game” which means trivializing one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in British history and poking at the trauma of a 26-year-old woman. 

The thing about this is, rap has no rules, and Eminem has been doing this for over 20 years. The main issue with this is that just six songs later, on “Darkness,” he recreates the actions of the gunman who open fired on the 2017 Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas. He juxtaposes the shooter’s preparation with the pre-show ritual of a nervous musician. He highlights the narcissistic streak that runs through so many white, male, domestic terrorists. The song ends with a compilation of footage reporting on the Las Vegas shooting and various school shootings. 

“When will this end? When enough people care,” Eminem’s website currently reads below a link to the “Darkness” video. He has spent the past 20 years glorifying violence and spewing misogynistic and homophobic criticism, he even does so across most of “Music to Be Murdered By,” but this song deviates from that mentality.  

A song like “Darkness” would usually be a touching statement from another artist, but Eminem doesn’t deserve an awe-struck reaction. Instead, the song just adds to the disjointed nature of “Music to Be Murdered By,” another album of the artist’s that is weighed down by over used tactics and soulless lyrics. In a career full of headline-grabbing provocations, perhaps the one Eminem can no longer sell is sincerity.  

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Fear More Than A Hall-sweep http://opsnorthstar.com/5090/opinion/fear-more-than-a-hall-sweep/ http://opsnorthstar.com/5090/opinion/fear-more-than-a-hall-sweep/#respond Mon, 24 Feb 2020 18:15:08 +0000 http://opsnorthstar.com/?p=5090 “North has terrible halls.” 

Familiar words for students of Omaha North High, but if one had never attended then they might be led to believe the paint was chipping, or the ceilings were scarred by water damage. They wouldn’t be wrong, but they probably wouldn’t have gotten the intended message. 

At North High, it’s well known that the hallways during passing period typically do not fall under the definition of organized. Going around the school, it’s not hard to find a teacher or security guard who will say those 4 familiar words. 

It’s not hard to get pushed, or shoved, or bumped, or yelled at, or knocked over, either. Many assume it’s because students are violent and aggressive, pushing their way to class and not caring about other’s safety, possibly intending to rough up another kid. I’d argue that’s wrong.  

No one has ever intentionally drove me into the side of a locker, but I’ve certainly been in the wrong place when someone is rough housing with friends. In the middle of the hallway, of course. 

If you’re a student who struggles with trauma, anxiety, and I’m sure much more, then the halls can turn from a way to travel, to the trigger for a panic attack. Personally, I struggle with an anxiety disorder. Passing by hundreds of people in a loud, cramped space while constantly being at risk of being shoved for no reason? Not helpful when you already find your classrooms overwhelming. 

While these seem like little things, they can impact students in much larger ways. For me, it meant not coming to school. The thought of dealing with such direct discomfort on top of overwhelming classes kept me in bed. On occasion, I would want to stay home but attempt to “tough through it,” which typically just put me in the counselor’s office, unable to function properly, for a class period or two. Sometimes I just went home early. 

There are many possible solutions, but as a student who struggles with this personally, my main want is to have less people in the halls. Other schools in the district, such as McMillan Middle School, have a wide variety of systems for handling the number of kids in the hall at a given time. At McMillan, this involves having different bells for different grades. 

For North High however, this solution isn’t quite so straight forward. We have a large number of mixed classes, and so releasing one set of students before the other creates a gap in the time that they have together as a full class. I’m positive that there are good solutions to this, however, like having bell work during those times. 

Whatever the best solution may be, our current situation is not it. I think the school system in general could do a lot more to assist with student mental health, and this is a good first step. Not even just for student mental health, but for student safety, teacher safety, and the sake of not driving teachers further to insanity. 

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JACKBOYS doesn’t know “WHAT TO DO” http://opsnorthstar.com/5088/entertainment/jackboys-doesnt-know-what-to-do/ http://opsnorthstar.com/5088/entertainment/jackboys-doesnt-know-what-to-do/#respond Mon, 24 Feb 2020 18:09:49 +0000 http://opsnorthstar.com/?p=5088 After Travis Scott became a superstar off his album ASTROWORLD and his 2019 single HIGHEST IN THE ROOM it felt right that he’d head back into the studio soon. Travis brought his label mates from CACTUS JACK in Don Toliver, Sheck Wes, and Luxury Tax 50 all with him to make JACKBOYS. A moody, spacious album that is lopsided at best and wastes amazing production with lack luster artist performances at worst. 

JACKBOYS is pegged as “collaborative” album but it doesn’t even get close to splitting the workload. There is one Sheck Wes song, one verse from Luxury Tax 50, two Don Toliver, one transition song, and the final three are for Travis Scott. It doesn’t take a mathematician to point out this is extremely unequal in its load.  

While Sheck Wes and Luxury certainly use their limited time to its fullest Travis does not. Despite being on all but one song the album Travis often sounds like he is shilling it in. Static, flat, and unemotional sum up his performances on GANG GANG and HIGHEST IN THE ROOM. Out of place sums up his roles on OUT WEST and GATTI. Especially on “GATTI” Travis simply can’t find a pocket to rap on. It is hands down the worse song. The one silver lining is Don Toliver, the burgeoning star puts incredible emotion, passion, and a unique spin on the three tracks he’s on. 

It doesn’t help that the features take up so much space on this already short seven track album. The features routinely outperform the artists who are supposed to be the main selling points of JACKBOYS. Rosalia brings immense passion and energy to HIGHEST IN THE ROOM, a song with a mediocre Travis Scott coasting on auto tune. Young Thug delivers an energetic and bouncing performance but ultimately unoriginal and forgettable one on OUT WEST that accounts for another weak Travis performance. The only features who fail to deliver are Quavo and Offset on HAD ENOUGH. They sound awkward on and stiff on the almost r&b beat which Don Toliver is far more comfortable on.  

However, there is one thing that is consistent across the whole album. The moody, atmospheric production is JACKBOYS strongest feature by a mile. Whether it’s the powerful and booming synths on HIGHEST IN THE ROOM that bless the outro, the haunting guitar and orchestra in WHAT TO DO? all courtesy of producer Mike Dean, or the soaring, moody, and tasteful samples on OUT WEST and HAD ENOUGH. There is almost too much to gush about, too bad the artists don’t abuse the top-notch production. 

JACKBOYS had the ability to be great. Its powerful production is borderline wasted with uninspiring verses and choruses. When an album is only seven tracks long you expect it put its best foot forward every song. JACKBOYS is only a couple verses away from putting that forward because of its already stellar beats. Hopefully we see what the CACTUS JACK label is truly capable of soon. 6.3/10 

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