May 24, 2016
by The OJBG Team
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Some Other Beginning’s End| SB

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The Good Wife is over. 7 years, 156 episodes, umpteen affairs, and countless wigs.

The Good Wife started airing on Middle America’s favorite network during a personal low. My attached-at-the-hip college best friend did not watch or own a television, in fact she was one of THOSE people who looked down on the pastime. A very dark time, indeed.

I lost my television diet in the years we were closest and regained it in 2013 when I finally decided to commit to The Good Wife, in ways Peter Florrick never could. The series followed (past tense ugh) Alicia Florrick, a mother and wife to Peter Florrick, a corrupt State’s Attorney for Cook County. His imprisonment stemming from corruption charges thrusts her into the workforce and ultimately a competitive law firm where Alicia rises to name partner.

The Good Wife shirked black or white storytelling and the writer’s room rarely drafted a right or wrong side for Alicia to stand on. Nuance was this story’s greatest attribute and if you ask some finale viewers, its most frustrating weakness. The Good Wife upended the case of the week formula that audiences have grown accustomed to with well-crafted takes on current issues like NSA surveillance, gay rights in conflict with religious freedom and so on. This wasn’t a show that could play in the background as the salmon seared, this was a show to be engaged in.

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Things I’ll miss about The Good Wife:

 The Will They or Won’t They
The Good Wife team never shied away from having a straight-backed suitor for Alicia Florrick to make eyes with. But, where The Good Wife thrived was in its efforts to have Mrs. Florrick experience an intentional and fervent love despite motherhood, her position in Chicago and in full view of her philandering husband.

 The Guest Stars
Oliver Platt. Taye Diggs. Mamie Gummer. Vanessa Williams. Anika Noni Rose. Valerie Jarrett, the dad from Wonder Years. The Good Wife made expert use of its guest stars. Save the misplaced celebrity walkthroughs, each guest player pushed the story forward.

The Opening Credits
The Good Wife crafters often let an entire scene unfold before the title card appeared and that device left my head spinning.

Diane Lockhart  & Kirk McVeigh
Women of a certain age aren’t allowed love, especially an outwardly passionate love in film and television.  The pair married in season 5 and the thrill of watching two very sharp, secure characters support and challenge each other was something to behold.

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Alicia Florrick
Brought to life by Juliana Margulies, Alicia Florrick proved delightfully inscrutable in her hands. Alicia Florrick was the female answer to every cable television anti –hero audiences have had to root for or suffer through. In a single episode she could exercise ambition, be unflappable, sensual, and competent. She was king.

The BEST Episode.

May 10, 2016
by The OJBG Team
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In a Teal Blue Dress| SB

25 years ago, Anita Hill, a demure legal professor sat in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee seeping with pomp and testosterone to read her claims of sexual harassment against Clarence Thomas, the soon to be confirmed Supreme Court Justice. A few weekends ago, I watched Confirmation, an HBO film that casts a light on the lead up to and eventual fallout from the hearings.

In viewing the film, I marveled at Hill’s bravery as a Heartland raised, single, childless, black woman of a certain age and reflected on my own transition into feminism. As a kid, I imagined a feminist to be the girl who wanted to integrate the football team or the hairy-legged loudmouth who could hold court with the pugnacious guys in the back of a classroom.

I grew up in the age of Spice-Girl Power and Mia Hamm anything-you-can-do-I can-do-better Nike branded empowerment. Still, the media I encountered as a kid failed to present nuanced representations of young women, specifically, who were equal to and/or independent of a male.

If I had to settle on one, I’d say my first feminist icon was Moesha Denise Mitchell. The lead character on UPN’s Moesha, she was intellectually curious, an ambitious student journalist and managed the independence of teendom with the most enviable a-line skirt game. But, even she buoyed between seeking the approval of a domineering father (#worstsitcomfatherever) and having her young life upended by every bushy tailed suitor that made it past the series’ casting director.

Media has grown bolder with depictions of feminism in praxis with heroines like Scandal’s Olivia Pope, The Good Wife’s Alicia Florrick, and even Girls Hannah Horvath. And we’re better for it. In the years since the hearing, Thomas sits mostly silent on the bench and Hill has been hoisted up as a feminist icon inspiring a surge in female lawmakers and sexual assault reportage.

Though I am but a baby feminist. Experience, books, tumblr pages, twitter timelines, women like Anita Hill and films like Confirmation have lent to my feminist- womanist leanings and I now know better than to reduce a brazen woman to unshaved legs.

May 2, 2016
by The OJBG Team
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Web Series Review: Conversations from the Afterlife

Conversations from the Afterlife

Conversations from the Afterlife

Synopsis:
Depending on who you ask, we as spirited beings get to live on after our bodies decay. But what then? Clouds, harps, songs of praise, and streets of gold; or weeping, flames, gnashing of teeth, and eternal torment? Maybe we live on, inhabiting the bodies of a lesser life form, or we sort of melt into a collective greater consciousness. Or perhaps it really isn’t that different. Maybe we still have jobs, we still have friends, and, whenever possible, we still like eating ice cream cake.

Clayton’s first life is over. In fact his mortal life ended a century ago, at least, and though his current existence is pretty tough, Clayton has centuries left before his sentence is up. You see, he has the misfortune of working in the soul acquisition department of Hellfire Industries, overseeing the paperwork of mortals who want to sign over their immortal soul to the Devil for advancement in life. Clayton hates his job, he hates watching people make the same mistake he made so many years ago. The Devil (a.k.a. Jerry) has heard of Clayton’s dismay and, being a betting man, wants to “help” him out. Jerry will give Clayton the chance to have a do-over, but there is a catch. If In his second life he cannot achieve the goals the Devil has outlined, Clayton will be bound for eternity to the will of the nefarious Jerry… Interested? Do lend your ear to Conversations from the Afterlife.

Review:
Don’t you just love that narrator? He has such a friendly and conversational tone. The way he acknowledges the presence of the audience is just welcoming, ya’ know? I think that’s pretty important when discussing such weighty topics as the afterlife and damnation. I will try to give you the same courtesy as I walk you through this nifty breakdown:

  • Acting: All the actors have done great jobs creating understandable and at least partially relatable characters. For instance, Jerry (played by the devilishly smashing show creator Adam Henry Garcia) is genuinely detestable, but somehow even as you cringe you feel just the slightest twinge of pity when you notice the desperate futility of his struggle. Good acting, that.
  • Plot: The plot is interesting, but it can be a bit meandering at times. If you have patience (‘tis a virtue, they say) or you perhaps like that kind of story you will love the extra time that it takes to unfold this truly unique world.
  • Production: Most of the cosmetic issues that this show suffers from (like the minimalist sets) would be fixed with a larger budget. As a life-long tight-wad, I really don’t think that should be held against them.

Conversations from the Afterlife is an excellently unique and satisfyingly complex fantasy. Honestly, it might be my second favorite creative imagining of the nether world (the first spot will always belong to C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce), and after watching even just the intro you could easily find yourself dreaming about the possibilities of the world to come.

Watch Ep. 1 –and the rest of the series for that matter– on the Conversations form the Afterlife website.

- C.J. Fite

April 26, 2016
by The OJBG Team
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Web Series Review: Night School

Night School: The Web SeriesSynopsis:
The world is peppered with smart and powerful people. Sometimes they make themselves known to the world through their big personalities and notable deeds; they tell the stories of their rise from poverty, winning the hearts of the masses. But as often as not the powerful sit discreetly in the background and quietly dictate the future; theirs is not a tale of rags to riches. The world has always been at their fingertips, and starting as early as grade school they learned how to flex the muscles of influence.

Night School: The Web Series is based on the internationally enjoyed book series of the same name. Author C.J. Daugherty, penned a story that tells of Allie, a young delinquent sent off to a boarding school after once again getting in the sort of trouble that embarrasses her parents. At the school she finds friends, “friends,” and obscenely rich boys. Intriguing, no?

Review:
“Pray tell, my good man, why do I feel compelled to learn more about the hidden mysteries of the lives of wealthy young whippersnappers?” asked the eager reader.

For two rather simple reasons: first, it’s a trailer and that is what trailers are intended to do; second, because we all have a desire to glimpse the way the high and mighty live. (It’s worth noting that what follows is a commentary on the show alone and has nothing to do with the books.)

And now… “what follows”:

  • Acting: The acting is all top notch and when the characters are appropriately fleshed out the actors are more than capable of filling the role.
  • Plot: So, the grand plot as it’s described in the books is nothing at which to scoff and in conjunction with the books this show probably has more significance. Unfortunately, folks who have neglected to read the novels (e.g. your charming reviewer *sheepish grin*) may be lost as to how each episode connects to the others.
  • Production Value: Each episode is well-shot, well-lit, and well-recorded. The sets are especially special and really help to draw audience members right into the scene.

While it may be hard to understand the story from the web series alone, episodes like Power stand well as independent short films. Night School will make you curious about reading the books to better understand the dealings of profligate wastrels, and that is a good thing.

To watch Ms. Daugherty’s show, go here. To learn more about the books and even watch trailers for them, go here. To learn what a wastrel is, go here.

- C.J. Fite

April 20, 2016
by The OJBG Team
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Campaigning through the Keyboard: DC Inno Panel on Campaign & Election Tech |CTS

Surrounded by campaign posters and slogans from the past, it’s hard not to talk about politics at DC’s Capitol Lounge, so DC Inno decided to bring their State of Innovation Series there for Monday night’s topic: Campaign and Election Tech sponsored by Tahzoo. Joined by leaders in the campaign & election tech world from both sides of the aisle, the conversation proved one thing we already knew: the GOP & Republican party have lost significant ground when it comes to utilizing tech and social media in campaigns and during election season. In the past 8+ years, the Democrats simply have them beat.

Panelists included:Justin Lewis of NGP VAN who is the leading technology provider to Democratic and progressive campaigns and organizations, offering clients an integrated platform of the best fundraising, compliance, field, organizing, new media, and social networking products; Matt Oczkowski of Cambridge Analytica who use data modeling and psychographic profiling to grow audiences, identify key influencers, and connect with people in ways that move them to action; Alex Lundry of Deep Root Analytics which is a media analytics firm who offers a Data Management Platform (DMP) that leverages the highest quality media consumption data to surface unique, actionable insights to marketers which enables them to effectively and efficiently target their audiences; and Elizabeth Bennett of Revolution Messaging which is a full service digital agency fighting for progressive causes.

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Left & Right aside, one of the best topics of the night was a neutral one: Politics is a people business… how do you translate from the computer & data & analytics to the people?

Justin: Having a good team to visualize all the data to make it work for the campaign and what to focus on.

Matt: Good candidates with good messages win elections, not tech or necessarily social media.

Alex: Incorporate & quantify the elements of the people inside your campaign… make sure the people in your campaign are experienced and understand the electorate.

Elizabeth: The message is the most important… take the message and persuade people to come out.

It’ll be interesting to see whose strategies end up working the best this November, and in the meantime, we’re excited for DC Inno’s big event on Tuesday, May 3rd!

April 20, 2016
by The OJBG Team
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Web Series Review: The Tommy Edison Experience

Synopsis:
It’s probably really hard being blind. There are just so many things for which one ordinarily uses their eyeballs: reading books, avoiding walls, playing Candycrush, watching web series, etc. We take being sighted individuals totally for granted, not even bothering to think about those less fortunate and when we do, it’s often out of pity. Tommy Edison doesn’t want your pity, in fact he would probably prefer a chuckle.

The Tommy Edison Experience is an informational reality web series that follows the truly delightful titular character as he experiences the some of the activities that visually unimpaired types find mundane. This includes playing basketball and making yourself useful in the kitchen. Tommy also answers some of the questions that we all want to ask, like how do you use your smart phone? Or, how do blind people dream? And, of course, can you draw a picture of a cat?

Review:
So that isn’t a trailer and this is a different sort of show than the others I have reviewed, thus my usual “nifty breakdown” would not make sense in analyzing this show, so I’m gonna wing it, sans bullet points.

This show would simply be a set of mildly interesting vlog posts if it weren’t for the marvelous charisma of Tommy Edison. For starters he is blind, and let’s be honest, no one but a blind person could answer our questions about what it is like to be blind. In addition to his, shall we say, experience with blindness, Tommy has an absolutely dynamite sense of humor. There is something so refreshing about having a host that is always ready to laugh; it makes me as an audience member feel at ease. Most importantly, the show is a great place for people to ask questions that might seem insensitive in other scenarios, and receive answers that genuinely help sighted folks to relate with a life without eyes.

The editing in this show is also of note. Whenever Tommy is describing his sensations, we get some great cut away images that really capture what he smells/feels/hears for our eyes to interpret. The actual camera work is simplistic, never really moving or anything, but that doesn’t get in the way of informing and entertaining the audience.

All of his videos are on the shorter so it’s easy to watch a whole bunch back to back. If you’re interested in the life of the visually impaired and you like to laugh, do yourself a favor and check out the Youtube channel, TommyEdisonXP.

If you want to see Tommy learning how to be a quick draw gun fighter, check out the show on Amazon or Hulu.

-C.J. Fite

April 14, 2016
by The OJBG Team
0 comments

Web Series Review: OMG! For Pete’s Sake

OMG! For Pete's Sake

Synopsis:
That generational divide that everyone talks about, is it really that serious? Us millennial types aren’t that different from Generation X, are we? As a general rule the internet plays a pretty significant role in the lives of GenX-ers and Millennials alike, what with social media and all, and the technical advancements of the last 20 years have really helped to break down the age barriers that once stood in the way. I guess the internet really does bring people together, people like Brett and Claire.

Brett is about to turn 40, this means he is middle-aged. Claire is 22, fresh out of college and excited about entering adulthood proper. Tinder has brought these two together. This couldn’t possibly be weird could it?

Review:
Ok, OMG! For Pete’s Sake is not as witty as Croissant Man or as vast as AIRLOCK, but it is probably more relevant than either. Here are my thoughts:

  • Acting: All of the actors seem like they are having fun. Not all that much is asked of them, but when the scene requires an extra special touch for laughs, you bet they can deliver.
  • Plot: While very simple, the show does provide a pretty entertaining situation with each new episode, helped along, of course, by very natural dialogue.
  • Production Value: The sound is not always consistent, though the camerawork and editing are on point The single set episodes are so cleanly done.

All in all, the best offering this show brings to the table of web entertainment is a lighthearted and relevant glance at the strange but sincere relationships of the internet age.

The show has recently finished its first season and I think season two is on its way. Check it out, you’re sure to find a few laughs along the way.

-C.J. Fite

April 13, 2016
by The OJBG Team
0 comments

“Changing Workspaces”: DC Inno panel on office design

“What makes an office ‘cool’?” One of the many questions that was asked and answered at DC Inno’sState of Innovation” meet-up series on Tuesday, April 12th. The topic: Changing Workspaces panel. Speakers were Gavin Daniels of Wingate Hughes, an architectural services company, Samantha Cicotello of Social Tables, a software for planners and properties, Adam Segal of cove, a neighborhood productive space, and Zak Kidd of Swingspace, a resource for small companies looking for commercial real estate. The event was held at the lovely We Work offices in Crystal City, VA and we were lucky to be in attendance.

The space, set up and layout of an office is as important as the product that’s being put out. You want your employees to be productive, relaxed yet focused, and excited to come to work every day. Feeling comfortable in the workplace is something companies all over the country, especially start-up tech companies, are starting to realize more and more. Are the days of cubicle farms coming to an end? Many large corporations will have you believe not any time soon, but if the growing number of abandoned office parks around the country are any indication, they might be. Companies are opting for more open space and relaxed environments that encourage productivity and camaraderie… utilizing the expertise of designers and architects rather than just moving a bunch desks in and calling it a day.

Ok, so you’re dying to know: What DOES make an office “cool”? Well according to the experts:

Zak: Cool offices are timeless. They’re never set. The company continues to change and innovate the office space.

Gavin: An emotion you feel. The manifestation of the energy of the office.

Samantha: Natural light. Being able to see the sun.

Adam: How accessible it is to home.

In a nutshell, a cool office is one where the company changes with the times and is committed to growing with it’s employees, it’s got positive energy and allows the employees to feel comfortable providing input and being creative, they are able to feel like they’re not in the middle of a dark box, and it’s easily accessible to where employees feel they can come and go with ease. Sounds like a place anyone would want to be!

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April 12, 2016
by The OJBG Team
0 comments

Web Series Review: Croissant Man

Croissant Man Web Series

Synopsis:
In the world of Croissant Man an ever widening divide between the snooty upper crust and the rest of the population has led to…tension. It is here we find our hero distraught and disenfranchised with the opulent bourgeois life he leads. But what can he do? Perhaps therapy will help, or maybe it’s just best to wallow in his vices. Without direction our hero is lost and confused, even the solace he used to find in his favorite cheesy TV drama is lost in a fog of dismay. He has no “fillings”. Life is meaningless! But Lo, what is this? This vision, this inspiration…who is she? She brings hope and meaning, she inspires our hero to take a stand for the innocent, to fight for the rights of the oppressed…

Sounds like you’re in for a thought provoking Marxian study of class struggle as a backdrop for our hero’s unsettling existential crisis, no? Oh yeah I almost forgot: the “hero” is a croissant with a mustache and the world he lives in is entirely populated by baked goods. Enjoy the trailer!

Review:
If you just watched that and have already added the show to your “must watch web series list,” then your training is complete. I release you to watch the whole show here. Too-da-loo!

If, however, you have not followed the above link: Shame on you! Keep reading and allow me to show you the error of your ways through this nifty breakdown:

  • Acting: Both the voice acting and the “animation” are imperfect, but I really think that is the point. It really wouldn’t be as funny if everything moved smoothly. And despite the limitations of the immobile puppets the emotions and expressions were never in question.
  • Plot: There are so many interesting side characters, and while the main story unfolds there are numerous secondary plots that are just clever, and chuckle-worthy. And writing is impeccable, even after only one episode you will be convinced of that.
  • Production Value: Perhaps the most significant contribution this show makes to web series as a whole is the jaw dropping set design. And the creativity of cinematography on such a small scale is definitely commendable.

This show, at least in my humble and sort of quirky opinion, is absolutely hilarious in all of the right ways. The inherent comedy of the puppet’s movement, the unabashed use of childish puns in the middle of adult situations, the gorgeously intricate sets, and the overbearing melodrama all add up to a truly delightful show that is simultaneously laughable and praiseworthy. It’s so simple in appearance, but still manages to be mind boggling. How did they pull that off? I mean seriously, this show is a feat of which the creators ought to be proud.

Now it is time for you to do the right thing. Watch Croissant Man.

-C.J. Fite

Web Series Review: AIRLOCK

April 8, 2016 by The OJBG Team | 0 comments

AIRLOCK

Synopsis:
Sector 9 has been compromised. After a long drawn out war against the Grayskins, the powers that be decided that the best way to contain these dangerous shape shifting aliens is to quarantine the entire system, trapping many an innocent human while safeguarding the rest of the galaxy. Outposts have been set up to ensure that all ships attempting to leave are stopped or, if worst comes to worst, terminated.

The Captain of a remote outpost is forced to make a difficult decision when a seemingly empty ship floats toward the space station. After finding a dead crew and signs of a struggle, the hesitant boarding party discover refugees from Sector 9, any of them might be a deadly Grayskin in disguise. A command from on high tells him to abandon the hostages, women and children included, to the emptiness of space. Can he trust the refugees? They may very well be dangerous. Could he just abandon them to death? There are innocents aboard.

Review:

“Cool trailer, friend, but what makes this show worth my time?”

You want more? Fine, here’s a nifty breakdown:

Acting: All of the characters are well cast, and the actors really sell the sense of building doom.
Plot: With a complex plot and such a fleshed out world, it is hard not to get sucked in.
Production Value: The only thing that needs some help would be the sound mixing. Occasionally the cool sound effects get in the way of the dialogue. But with a seemingly endless budget for special effects and someone who knew what they were doing behind the camera, AIRLOCK is still one of the best shows I’ve seen online.

This high intensity web series has all the makings of one of the very best sci-fi franchises. Watch the first episode of AIRLOCK here.

What? You’re not hooked yet? Look people, this is probably going to be the best sci-fi show you will have the pleasure of watching anywhere. Sometimes it’s easy to assume web series are of lesser quality than network or cable TV just because they are online. Codswallop! We only think that because we don’t take the time to actually watch shows like AIRLOCK. And no, I am not over selling this show.

Seriously, AIRLOCK shall not disappoint.

…And yes the other episodes are worth it.

-C.J. Fite