Category Archives: Alicea Alford

Young Iranians Dissatisfied with Government

by Alicea Alford – Staff Writer

Since Dec. 28, the people of Iran have been protesting the lack of economic opportunity, high prices of food and fuel, Iranian involvement in the Middle East, and the government as a whole.

President Hassan Rouhani outlined a plan during his election bid to boost the economy. However, with average Iranians not feeling the benefits of his economic agenda because they deal with growing inflation, unemployment, and restriction of their freedoms, they arranged protests.

Alireza Nader, an international policy analyst, said to CNN why the people are protesting, “The government is viewed as highly corrupt, increasing inequality is seen by the population as really a form of injustice.”

Most protesters that were arrested had been from low income families and were between 18 and 35 years old.

A South Asia and Middle East expert for the Washington-based Middle East Institute said to RadioFreeEurope, “Young Iranians hold higher expectations…and aspire to more freedoms and opportunities…they are deeply frustrated with economic and political stagnation in the country, and do not see the ruling political establishment as capable of addressing their needs.”

The protests spread to more than 80 cities and towns around Iran. They were the largest protests in Iran since 2009. More than 42,000 people took part in the protests. Around 3,700 people were arrested for their participation in the anti-government protests.

The Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafaari Dolatabadi said to the Mehr news agency, “More than 440 people who were arrested in Tehran riots have been released.”

The protests resulted in at least 25 deaths. Most killed were protestors, however some were security guards trying to keep control during the protests. At least 2 deaths occurred while in police custody.

Although the protests have ended, Siavush Randjbar-Daemi, a lecturer in Iranian history at Britain’s University of Manchester said to NBC news, “I do not think the feeling of dissent toward the regime and level of disgust for the political and economic situation has gone away.”

The Walking Dead Disappoints Comic Book Readers and Series Fans

by Alicea Alford – Staff Reporter

It’s safe to say The Walking Dead has steadily lost fans and viewers since the Season 7 premiere, when Glenn was killed off the show. The Season 8 mid-season finale, has set the show up for yet another unjustified death.

Carl Grimes, played by Chandler Riggs, was set up to be killed off The Walking Dead. The show has a history of writing characters dying for shock value, rather than character development and an interesting plot the show has not recycled. The only way the show knows how to develop one character is by killing another. The show has killed characters to develop Rick Grimes, played by Andrew Lincoln, many times before, but Carl has always been safe from dying, until now.

The death surprised the entire cast, Lincoln most of all, to Vanity Fair he said, “I always thought that the kid would be the future, and that was the whole point of this—that I was going to hand over the revolver and let him walk off into the distance… you can’t write a character like Rick Grimes—whose engines are his wife and his son—and you take away the wife and you’re left with the son…that got him off his deathbed in the first-ever episode, and you take that away.”

Carl’s death has not happened yet, but is inevitable. He was bit by a walker, or zombie, in the stomach. The bite is barely noticeable in the scene it occurs. If he must be killed off the show it should be a substantial moment, not a hastily written in walker-bite. He has survived too much to be killed from one bite viewers could hardly see happen.

There is no way Carl can get out of this, like some fans have theorized. Riggs had been fired by showrunner Scott Gimple. Gimple confirmed Carl’s bite will play out the way bites have in the past, meaning Carl will die. Before Riggs read the midseason finale script, Riggs he had been told his job was safe for 3 years, so he purchased a house in Georgia where the show is filmed. Then he was fired 3 days before his 18th birthday through messy writing in the midseason finale script.

Carl was the future of the show, and killing him off kills more of The Walking Dead’s fanbase and future plot points where he played a major role in the comics.

The Punisher, Slow Starting Thriller

by Alicea Alford – Staff Writer

Avenging the murder of his family, Frank Castle (The Punisher), played by Jon Bernthal, uncovers dark truths about his time served in the Marines as part of project Cerberus in Kandahar, Afghanistan. He hunts down those who ran the project with the help of an unlikely friend, David Lieberman (Micro), played by Ebon Moss-Bachrach. All the while, Homeland Security Agent, Dinah Madani, played by Amber Rose Revah, is searching to solve the murder of her partner in Kandahar.

The episodes seemed to drag on. I found myself checking how much time was left in the episode to know how close it was to ending, every episode. The pace of the show was faster than Iron Fist, but even that is not saying much. The thin plot stretched out over 13 episodes may have not been the best decision, there was more down-time than expected from how the audience saw Castle in season 2 of Daredevil. The slow build is worth it in some respects, there show held more focus on the relationships between characters and their interactions than in found in faster-paced non-stop action.

Relationships, romantic or not, seemed to be the focus of the show when murder and government conspiracy was not. One relationship in particular was wildly out of character for Castle. The will-they-wont-they with Micro’s wife, Sarah, and Castle would never be in the picture. Castle would never think of looking at the person his friend is married to. He has a strong sense of honor and the writing of this relationship just seemed off character-wise.

Aesthetically, the show was pretty to watch. The use of color and camera angles created something more interesting to watch when most of the show was just people talking until the last few episodes. The Punisher fits seamlessly into the other Marvel Netflix shows like Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, The Defenders, etc.

Overall, the slow pace was a set-back but once you look past it the show was great. Billy Russo, played by Ben Barnes, was a major highlight. He perfectly captured what Billy Russo is. How the show set-up him becoming Jigsaw, The Punisher’s archenemy, was perfectly heartbreaking. Russo’s looks are the most important thing to him, and when that is taken away by Castle pushing his face into broken mirrors, it leaves Jigsaw-puzzle like scars. The audience saw Russo as a trustworthy friend to Castle and the shift to enemy was handled well.

Given the thin plot stretched out for 13 episodes, The Punisher is meant to be watched for the characters and fight-scene choreography. It leaves an opening for a second season where Jigsaw will presumably be the main antagonist. If you are looking for a fast-paced, non-stop, action superhero show, this is not it. However, if you are interested in a show that has well developed characters and interesting turns, this is it.

Lord of the Rings Series on Amazon Confirmed

by Alicea Alford – Staff Writer

Amazon struck a deal with the Tolkien Estate and Trust, HarperCollins, and New Line to produce a Lord of the Rings television series with a multiple season commitment, as well as potential for a spin-off series.

The rights to Lord of the Rings alone, cost Amazon around $200 million. When adding in production budget, cast, writers, producers, visual effects, etc. the series is most likely to cost more than $1 billion. The series is on track to become the most expensive show of all time.

The series would be based on the Lord of the Rings novels and the hobbits, wizards, and dwarves. It would take place before The Fellowship of the Ring, making it a prequel to The Lord of the Rings, giving fans a new journey to love. Though a cast or story line has not been set, the deal gives Amazon space to establish new characters and expand the stories Middle Earth, rather than use the story and characters audiences know and have seen previously.

A representative for The Tolkien Estate and Trust and HarperColins says, “The team at Amazon Studios have exceptional ideas to bring to the screen previously unexplored stories based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s original writings.”

With creating this Lord of the Rings series Amazon’s goal is to distance themselves from their niche series’ and move towards large-scale shows with a wide audience, as directed by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. They are looking to plant themselves with a strong fantasy franchise, with Game of Thrones ending soon audiences are going to need their fill of the genre.

There is still a lot up in the air about the specifics of the series, since the deal has just been made. Conceptually, there are many things Amazon can do relating to The Lord of the Rings given the language used in the deal where they are not required to use specific characters and have some free-reign in their series. They will have to find a balance between making it stand apart from the Peter Jackson movies while still making a cohesive connection between them aesthetically.

One Direction: Life After Split

by Alicea Alford – Staff Writer

Since their hiatus, the members of One Direction have been finding success in their solo careers. Niall Horan, member of One Direction, is aware of the mass level of success One Direction had, and how as a solo act that height is unreachable. He said to Billboard, “Nothing I do will be as big as One Direction, but I have to try at least to get somewhere near it.”

Horan released his debut album, Flicker, on Oct. 20. The album debuted #1 on the iTunes charts, and has since rocketed to #1 throughout the U.S. Sonically, his album was influenced by the music that stuck out to him as a child with, “classic American-rock with that country/Americana feel”. He spoke about in his “About the Album” with Applemusic. Horan’s promotional singles for the album (This Town, Slow Hands, and Too Much to Ask) gave a good sense of his ideal sound for the rest of the album.

To promote Flicker, Horan is heading on the Flicker Sessions 2017-2018 World Tour. Being solo, Horan is reminiscing on his tours with One Direction, “With One Direction, the screaming didn’t stop. We’d all run around and there was always some explosion going off or prop coming on. Now, I just stand there thanking God for my guitar. When I put that down, I haven’t a clue what to do with my hands” Horan said to The Sunday Times Culture magazine.

Harry Styles, another member of One Direction, released his self-titled debut album on May 12. Harry Styles not only debuted at the top of the iTunes charts in multiple countries, but the Billboard top 200 albums chart as well. His first single from the album, Sign of the Times, topped the charts when it was released. Sign of the Times debuting no.1 made Styles the third member of One Direction to release a song and have it debut #1, along with This Town by Horan and Pillowtalk by Zayn Malik.

Styles’ world tour to promote his album has him currently on the European leg of his 2017-2018 tour. As of now, his success post-One Direction is the only one to span out of music and into movies. Styles was an actor in Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk as Alex. In the World War II movie, Styles proves he didn’t get the part because of his star-power from One Direction.

Liam Payne, honey-voiced vocalist, has been busy in the studio. Payne has released Strip That Down, Get Low, and Bedroom Floor all with no hard information on the full album to be released. Strip That Down has got the most air-time of all his singles, reaching the top 10 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. Liam is spending time promoting his singles with BBCR1 Teen Awards and X-Factor live performances.

Louis Tomlinson is not only releasing music himself, but he’s taking on more responsibility behind the scenes by creating his own record label, Triple String, and managing a girl band, Did Alice Call. His release of Back to You landed him #40 on the

Billboard Hot 100. The single won him a People’s Choice Award for “Solo Pop Star Will Rule Summer of 2017”. He is the only member of One Direction to have his solo single hit no. 1 without a radio or label single campaign. Although he’s doing his own thing and loves it, he is still waiting for the band to get back together he said he would, “wait the two years, five years, whatever it be until One Direction reformed” (theguardian.com).

Although he left One Direction before they officially disbanded for hiatus, Malik released his solo album, Mind of Mine, in 2016. Now, he’s been doing more collaborations than he was when he first left the band. He’s had hits of I Don’t Wanna Live Forever with Taylor Swift and Dusk Till Dawn with Sia. He’s been busier with his movie soundtrack songs, while he’s working on his second album with what he said to US Weekly has more, “soulful R&B, club, and pop influences”.

Overall, through their solo careers and releasing their own music, their influence on One Direction is blatant sonically and lyrically. They all had their own piece that fit into the band. One Direction will always be a part of each of them, and Horan is always ready for the reunion, he said “If it comes tomorrow, I have my bag packed. If I have to wait till I’m 60, so be it. I’m serious. We’ll be like Eagles and never stop.”

Culminating Project Confuses Seniors

by Alicea Alford – Staff Writer

The senior project is everyone’s favorite part of senior year. With the ever-changing requirements, seniors are not sure what they’re supposed to do. With shorter homerooms, seniors will have to do the project more individually this year than ever. The increased individual amount of responsibility on seniors has done nothing but increase their confusion. Senior Amanda Ades said, “I wish they (administration) would give us more information on it. I have zero knowledge of what the new revised culminating project is. I just wish that I was less confused so that it would contribute to me being less anxious on that whole thing.” The project lacks the consistency that students need to really understand how to do the project. If information was more consistently distributed throughout the senior class, stress, anxiety, and confusion about the project would all significantly decrease.

When asked how about the project, Brooklyn Zanazanian said, “I feel stressed out. And I’m tired.” She is unaware of what specifically needs to be done which just adds unnecessary stress to something that should be straightforward. The senior project is supposed to benefit seniors but it seems to be only confusing and adding stress. For the most recent requirements, the Culminating Project section on the Kentlake Website is a great way to see what you have to do, now that you have got to do it alone for the most part because of the switch-up with the schedule. It seems like the way to go would be to get the harder requirements out of the way like community service hours and job shadows, so you cannot skate by with the easy stuff later on. But for now, if you are confused and stressed about the project you are not alone.