Monthly Archives: February 2020

“Messiah” Long Form Review

A fictional story that takes place in today’s society, Netflix’s original television series “Messiah” follows the storyline of a skeptical CIA officer as she is tasked with investigating a man who is either a divine being or an impressive con artist. The series, created and produced by Michael Petroni, debuted on Netflix Jan.1, 2020 with its first season consisting of 10 episodes.

Appearing in the city of Damascus, Syria, a man is seen preaching about believing in God and having faith that he would deliver the city from ISIS. The man gathers a small crowd who take interest in what he is saying. However, as an unbelievably large sandstorm is seen headed for the city, all but the man preaching choose to seek cover. The city is covered by the sandstorm for nearly a month but as the storm lifts, it is known that ISIS has withdrawn its militia from the city. A group of 2,000 or so Syrians believe this to be the work of the preacher man they now refer to as Al-Masih and follow their new-found leader into the Syrian desert. These events lead to the CIA becoming involved in following Al-Masih.

The CIA officer Eva Geller, who is played by Morgan Monaghan, follows this man across the world in hopes of learning the true nature of his character. Referred to as Al-Masih, which is the Arabic word for messiah, Mehdi Dehbi plays his character to perfection. A perfect mix of quiet confidence with a hint of mystery, Dehbi does a true justice to his role as Al-Masih.

With no real background given on Al-Masih, it leaves plenty of room for the show to make his character dynamic in character structure and personality. The show also does a great job of giving the audience bits and pieces of background on Al-Masih through Officer Geller and the CIA learning the true identity and upbringing of Al-Masih. This allows the show to build on the Al-Masih character without having to do separate flashback scenes or irrelevant character-building scenes.

The plot line of the show is both fitting for entertainment and complex enough to stir a true discussion of “what ifs” surrounding Al-Masih. As far as entertainment goes, the show fulfils its title of thriller mystery, with plenty of action scenes to go alongside the attempted debunking of Al-Masih and his actions. The show does a fantastic job of balancing the major story line with other smaller but significant ones around its supporting characters. All the smaller plot lines do a great job of working off the major one and continue to help build the mystery that is Al-Masih.

During the show, Al-Masih performs many miracles in front of the public as well as in front of cameras. Some of these events, mirror those of Jesus Christ from the Bible and ultimately lead to a discussion of Al-Masih’s legitimacy as the true messiah. However, outside of the show, it sparks conversations that explore and challenge the ideas of faith and religion. Would the world be able to accept that the messiah has come back? With today’s technology, word and video of any miracles would spread quickly across the world. Even with video proof of events, there would surely be plenty of conspiracy theories or those who claim the events to be fake. Petroni knew this would be the reaction if these events occurred in real life and was sure to include equal reactions throughout the series.

Overall, Michael Petroni and Netflix created an entertaining series that is well worth the watch and is sure to perplex your mind about the mystery and possibility of a divine being.

“We Were” – Keith Urban Short Form Review

In the single “We Were”, country music superstar Keith Urban teams up with fellow superstar Eric Church. Reminiscing on a former love, Church and Urban recount the feeling of a young love they never realized wouldn’t last. The song, which was written by Church, Jeff Hyde and Ryan Tindell, expresses wanting to get a love back that just isn’t there anymore. The song is beautifully written with a laid back vibe. It’s worth 3:09 of your life.

NGHS 2019-20 Short Review

“Above the Clouds” took a turn from the performances traditionally put on by the North Gwinnett Band. The show, which was drawn up in concept by former assistant band director, Mark Kapral, was splintered by his unexpected and sudden departure. The framework was then picked up in the off season by staff who scaffolded an entertaining show for performers, though sometimes hard to follow from the press box. Visually, the show has the same vibe as their 2018-2019 show, “Shine,” however there is no simultaneous musical and visual climax in “Above the Clouds.” The Bulldogs looked and sounded phenomenal on the field under the instruction of Band Director Rudy Gilbert.

Arsenic and Old Lace Long Review

“Arsenic and Old Lace,” which ran from Feb. 13-16 2020, made for the perfect Anti-Valentine’s Day outing for the theatre loving couple or individual. It is a combination of macabre and farcical dark comedy which revolves around the antagonist, Mortimer Brewster who must confront his morality as he comes to terms with his long established and beloved family being outed as clinically insane and homicidal. All the while being interrupted by his uncle who believes himself to be Teddy Roosevelt, and is digging “locks” for the Panama Canal in the cellar. The play comes to a head as Mortimer debates whether to risk continuing the line of family illness by marrying the love of his life, Elaine Harper. Playwright Joseph Kesselring is able to satirize charity, poke fun at the conventions of theatrical performance and scriptwriting all the while maintaining a somber theme. 

The Piedmont Players did the impossible during their run of Arsenic & Old Lace by taking a beloved classic and making it fresh and new for each theatre lover that packed the house. 

The cast and crew noticeably enjoyed themselves as they took on their roles in the spirited and unconventional home of the charitable old Brewster sisters. Arsenic and Old Lace, set in the 1940’s features Abby and Martha Brewster who run an old style Bed and Breakfast for older, lonely gentlemen and their nephews, Mortimer, a harsh theatre cristic, and Jonathon, a prodigal son of whom everyone is afraid. 

Amidst the many meta conversations about the sacrilege of the theatre, the audience travels through a whirlwind 24 hours in the Brewster home as they follow the unraveling normalcy that Mortimer has come to know as his family. Aunts Abby and Martha, played by Mickey Walters and Kaitlin Conners respectively, are portrayed as the sweet, yet spirited “wine aunts” that everyone in the audience will immediately connect with an aunt of their own. This image quickly dissolves as the elderberry wine, and the women who serve it, show their true bouquet. 

There is certainly a reason the stage play has stood the test of time. Throughout the duration of the three act play, the audience was not only kept on their toes, but kept laughing at the numerous jabs at preacher’s daughters, religion, and the art of theatre, which were a treat for avid patrons of the art. From the opening curtain to the final bow, the actors are fully in gear to catch the audience by surprise as the Brewster sisters deliver their final life-changing twist. 

Director John Spiegel and Assistant Director Taylor Shirley stayed true to the essence of the play with their casting. The actors were able to capture not only the humor and gravity of the script, but the roots of the characters that remain unwritten. The entire cast was up to the challenge of conveying both slapstick humor and whimsy, but also utter chaos and dark comedy. Jordan Hicks notably showed regular patrons of the Piedmont Theater his incredible range by portraying the notorious, out of control and sadistic Jonathon Brewster after being cast as the creepy MC in Cabaret during the fall. Similarly, Chelsea Harris, who played Elaine Harper, the seemingly coy preacher’s daughter, showed her dynamic acting ability after playing a convincing Kit-Kat Girl in Cabaret. 

The costumes, designed by Kayla Griffin, and set, designed by John Spiegel, kept true to the time period the play is set in without being engulfed in stereotypical period dress and tchotchkes. The set both felt like a memory of grandparents and a home that could be seen today, if only the phone was updated. Costuming was done entirely by theatre students which is a testament to the education they are receiving. The materials, styles, and colors of the costumes were aided by period touches and fit seamlessly with the set. Together, they created an unmistakable and well-loved 1940’s ambiance-romantic even under the circumstances. 

Arsenic and Old Lace is a must see, though the audience should beware the elderberry wine for fear of catching yellow fever. 

Lil’ Wayne- “Funeral” album review

Lil’ Wayne, one of the rap industry’s biggest stars, just dropped what some people think might be his final studio album, “Funeral” back in January of 2020. From a long list of records dating back to his earliest in 1999, which was titled “Tha Block Is Hot,” Lil’ Wayne has an extensive discography and is one of the most influential and versatile artists in the rap game. “Funeral” has everything that a Lil’ Wayne album could offer, from the features to the instruments that are being used, to the versatility in his vocals. From when he signed to Young Money Cash Money Entertainment in 1998, who has now become the sole owner of the record label, Lil’ Wayne has been one of the most consistent and prominent rappers over the past 20 years. Not many rappers have been able to accomplish what he has, let alone stay relevant for that long, and continue to drop solid albums like this one.

One specific song that stands out as old school Wayne is Mahogany. It recons back to “The Carter III,” with the beat of the drums and the flow of the raps. Wayne really went back to his roots with that song. Throughout this album, Weezy showed us his versatility through his vocals by not just rapping to the beat, but further giving us a look at the way that he can sing and reach another audience with his music. Lil’ Wayne is and forever will be one of the best lyricists to ever hit the stage when it comes to rapping. Wayne has always given us this “listen first, and it’ll make you think later” mentality, and that has always been a part of his work and falls nothing short of this album.

I can still remember listening him back in middle school- certain lines that he spoke, the real meaning stood out to me months after I initially listened to it. Lil’ Wayne has been one of those artists that everyone has either wanted to work with, or someone else has picked up traces of in their music. From artists like 2 Chainz, Adam Levine and Jay Rock, he has collaborated with several artists on this album. This is a testament to who he can work with. Whether “Funeral” is Lil’ Wayne’s last studio album or not, it has the tracks that can included on summer playlists.

Lil’ Wayne has established himself as a self-proclaimed skater, and one way to describe this album by Lil’ Wayne is equivalent to him some of the skate tricks. He sticks and lands quite a few of them, but also misses some as well. Some songs are just flops and don’t hit as hard as others. The amount of time that Lil’ Wayne has been in the rap game and as much as he has contributed to it, I honestly wouldn’t be mad that this album would be his last. There were quite a few songs that were absolute bangers like Ball Hard, Not Me and T.O. but there were also quite a few that were just a miss. The past two albums by Weezy have had that same viability, with his long break from releasing a studio album until “Tha Carter V,” unto which he reclaimed his throne in the rap game. It just has not been the same Wayne we all know and love. With his teaching and ways interwoven throughout the rap scene and the credibility as one of the best rappers alive, Lil’ Wayne gave us one of his most diverse and nostalgic works with this album, even though it was not his best.

Super Bowl LIV Halftime Show

When it comes to Super Bowl halftime shows, they usually don’t live up to the hype. But Shakira and Jennifer Lopez took over the world during the Pepsi Halftime Show at the 2020 Super Bowl. Miami had Latin night on full display from pole dancing, hip shaking and the ethnic background tributes. Shakira and J-Lo put on a Super Bowl halftime performance that will go down in history, top to bottom (pun intended).

Short Review: After Hours by The Weekend

The Weekend’s song “After Hours” is the third teaser installment of his album “After Hours,” which will fully release on March 20. The song keeps a depressing tone but then picks up an upbeat and banging vibe you can jam out to. Abell’s lyrics pick up a theme of devotion and a strive for love. The song seems to be an apology to his ex-girlfriends and lets us know he is this dark, druggy tortured character who is taking all his pain out on others by being an alpha partier, long “After Hours.”

Long Review: Sonic the Hedgehog Movie

When another gaming movie was scheduled to be released Valentine’s Day, the gaming community was certainly concerned if it was going to be yet another flop for the genre. Instead, Sonic the Hedgehog was able to bring a video game into an entertaining and comical movie.

When the first trailer dropped on April 30, 2019, fans of the popular Sega video game had nothing but negative comments to say about the design of Sonic in the movie. Director Jeff Fowler responded to the fan backlash on Twitter.

“The message is loud and clear. You aren’t happy with the design & you want changes. It’s going to happen”.

The new and improved Sonic design hit the ground running, and it was all thanks to feedback from the community and Director Jeff Fowler for listening to fan feedback.
The movie is set when Sonic is forced to flee his homeworld in order to escape the evil Dr. Robotnik, who is trying to use his super-speed for evil.

Alone in our world, Sonic has no one to talk to but himself and “us” as he can occasionally break down the fourth wall Deadpool style. Voice actor Ben Schwartz’s portrayal is unique in being able to invoke that thrill-seeking spirit Sonic is known for. There are times where Sonic’s constant talking gets a bit too cartoonish, but the character evolves once he’s forced out of isolation in order to escape the clutches of Doctor Robotnik (Jim Carey) and he befriends Tom Wachowski (James Marsden).
From there, the plot is as straightforward as the 1991 Genesis game. Go fast and make a mad dash to collect those rings. Defeat the villainous Dr. Robotnik and on to the next scene.

It’s a movie about friendship as James Marsden’s “Tom” is looking to find meaning within his own life while Sonic is looking for a friendship with someone. They both end up finding what they’re looking for while trying to escape the clutches of Dr. Robotnik.
One might think it is hard to go against such a beloved blue, fast, energetic hedgehog, but the opponent is just as animated. Jim Carrey’s Dr. Robotnik brings reminiscing times of his Ace Ventura character. Showing that he still has overwhelming acting talent in him.
The film, however, does suffer from implementing too many visual effects we’ve seen used countless times before in films, often with more creativity. For example, a few may remember the scene from X-Men Days of Future Past, where Quicksilver cleverly shifts things around while running. You’ve seen it done before. It’s just done by Sonic now.

Sonic the Hedgehog stands out the most when it stands by the video game material showcased in the film. Director Jeff Fowler does an exceptional job putting in as many easter eggs from the Sonic games as possible, to the point where even hardcore Sonic fans have to watch the movie more than once to catch them all.

If you’re a Sonic fan worried whether this movie could genuinely catch the essence of nearly three decades worth of history of Sonic the Hedgehog, don’t be. While it lacks in some of the deeper cuts in Sonic lore, such as trapped animals in aggressed robots and Mystical emeralds, the essentials are all here in the highly scrutinized title character that should keep fans more locked into the story.

While this family-friendly action, comedy stumbles from a simple story and focuses too heavily on visual cinematic clichés, Sonic the Hedgehog is propelled by the fantastic acting of Jim Carrey and Ben Schwartz. Their game of cat and mouse has you at the edge of your seat the entire film.

If you’ve been a long time Sonic fan and been here since the start on the Sega Genesis, then this Valentine’s Day, Sonic the Hedgehog is the love letter you’ve been waiting for.

Well known Dr. Vance: admired by many

Anna Soriano-352  

Demorest, GA – Dr. Cynthia Vance, is a psychology professor and well admired by many students at Piedmont College. 

“27 years is a long time,” Cynthia Vance said about her time at Piedmont. “I do not think I have a favorite moment,” she said, but her favorite part of teaching is getting to know her students. 

Vance started her teaching career in graduate school as a teaching assistant and started at Piedmont on Aug 1.1993. One of her favorite teaching moments is  “seeing the light bulb go on” in students’ minds during class. She enjoys many friendships with faculty and staff.

Although the modest professor may not admit it, her teaching style turns on the lights of students. “I love Dr. Vance’s teaching style,” said Clara Ortega a sophomore nursing major at Piedmont. “Her lectures were never too fast, and she repeated key points that would most definitely be on her tests, she loves getting to know her students and stories.” 

Vance can be an intimidating force, but once students take her class, they see her softer side. 

“I was a little intimidated at first but she was really kind and funny,” said Cooper Keywork, a freshman Athletic training major.

Although Vance may not admit it, her impact on students is felt. “She always showed so much support and you can really tell she cares about her students,” Ortega said. 

Dr. Cynthia Vance

Phone: 706-778-8500 x1241

Clara Ortega

(626) 404 – 9540 

Cooper Keywork

(Please Note: Dr. Vance DOES NOT want to appear in The Roar) 

Jazz Musician to College Professor

English professor Jadyn Dewald talks about his uncommon life journey from being a famous Jazz musician to a community college student to earning his PhD before landing at Piedmont College.

 He understands the discovery in the value of education and his love for literature. 

“I’m an extraordinarily unlikely writer. I broke into the backdoor of this profession,” he said.

He wasn’t always an English professor. He was previously a famous Jazz musician for 15 years and taught a variety of writing courses, including creative writing. Growing up in Sacramento, California, education was the last thing Dewald worried about at the time. He first attended Sacramento Community College and says he found a great opportunity there. He thinks of it as a laboratory where he can experiment with different majors to figure out which one draws him the most. 

 “It allowed me a ton of time to let me figure out what I wanted to do,” he said. 

Then Dewald progressed to getting more serious about education after leaving his musical career behind him. He attended San Francisco State University, Pacific University, and the University of Georgia. The energy of books and book lovers drew him to becoming an English professor. 

“In high school, I read one book in my life,” he said. “And then once I discovered literature I immediately thought I gotta make up 20 years for not having done this.” 

After dipping his toes into the literature world, Dewald became captivated with the arts. He loves writing, but sometimes it can be a very lonely and isolated experience, so he was able to find warmth and company within the Piedmont community, connecting and networking with fellow writers. 

After Dewald’s compelling journey, he only has one goal that he wants to get across to his students after leaving his class each semester. 

“I want them to fall in love with reading,” he said. “Whatever they write, regardless of quality, is valid and worth doing.”