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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CM-featured

April 12, 2016
by The OJBG Team
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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

April 5, 2016
by The OJBG Team
0 comments

The Five Footer| SB

 Misogyny laden Twitter rants, tone-deaf claims and a Kardashian affiliation have left me disenchanted with Kanye West. Ten years ago, I would have made no objection to his rap gawd status. Aspirational lyrics, pristine visuals and the “can’t tell me nothing” bravado all primed my fandom. In his wee stardom, West was given platforms for the audiences to get to know the man behind “Through the Wire.” One of those platforms was MTV’s The Life & Rhyme’s of Kanye West, in which he mimed and performed the songs that influenced his artistry.

He started with “Check The Rhime” by A Tribe Called Quest. His enthused dedication to the track lasted about 15 seconds, but his reaction coupled with the audiences’ response led me to a LimeWire haul of any and everything ATCQ adjacent.

With grounded lyricism and funky production, ATCQ’s music became a mainstay on my MySpace page. I positioned Q-Tip as a forever crush. Phife Dawg’s lyrics shifted from clever lines to stick in an “About Me” section to lyrics essential to getting through the melancholia of high school.

Nearly two weeks ago, Phife Dawg passed away. As the news reached my Twitter feed, I was transported back to that early high school discovery. I remembered burning “Electric Relaxation” to a blank CD-R before I got my first IPod. I remembered the first time I proclaimed that I couldn’t date a guy if he didn’t appreciate ATCQ. I remembered how this group made hip-hop more legible for me. I remembered how cool I felt when I memorized the bars from “Bonita Applebum.” I remembered the warmth of the jazz influences on Q-Tip’s productions. I remembered the lyrics that helped color my world.

I hate to say this and he’ll love that I said this but, thank you Kanye.

 My Favorite ATCQ Story

For Malik. Rest in Power.

 

March 17, 2016
by The OJBG Team
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Wishes of 16 in 1996 | SB

My older siblings landed on earth in the late 1970s and there’s a 10-year gap before you get to me. As a toddler I witnessed their comings and goings with a fanatical eye. I watched their hurried exits to part-time jobs at KFC, band practices and outings with their Cross Colours adorned friends. I waited anxiously for their returns from all the exclusive places and dens I imagined teens went.

Those years before they drifted away to college or the military birthed a want in me to reach that precipice of teendom before I could even mutter “present” in a kindergarten classroom. Many of my memories of the mid to late 90s are centered on that want.  The television and music I ingested gave me TV-14 and Parental Advisory stickered insights into what my siblings’ lives looked like beyond our home.  After I’d get my last squeeze of a hug from my never-not-interesting brothers and sisters, I’d turn on the boob tube to quell my questions.

 Moesha

Clueless

Kenan & Kel

Sister, Sister

My Brother and Me

These shows helped me get a little bit closer to the world my siblings inhabited when the door closed behind them. Still, not one compared to stories they told me once they returned. Or the eavesdropping I had to resort to from time to time. Because questions need answers.

 

 

 

 

March 10, 2016
by The OJBG Team
0 comments

Intern Spotlight: House Hunters | Claire

Skrillex, Tiësto, Diplo, Avicii, Zedd, Kaskade, deadmau5, Flume – whether you’ve heard of them or not, they are all the rage amongst teenagers. The problem with teens is that we want to stand out while simultaneously fitting in. This kind of contradiction runs through our veins. The vast majority of people my age are so into this genre, known as “EDM” or “House”, because they think it is unique and will make them seem more interesting than if they were fans of regular artists, and that it sets them apart and gives them a “cool factor.” However in reality, everyone had the same idea, and going to raves and listening to lyric-less computer generated sounds is not quirky, it’s mainstream.

Any of the EDM artists listed above can be found on stage standing behind a table covered by a table cloth, with a mac laptop on top. They then proceed to press buttons on the laptop, to make certain sounds play. When they want to look busy, they’ll adjust the volume or add in some DJ record scratches.

I look back on my elementary and middle school years with fond memories of the music I would hear on the radio during the drive to and from school, such as The Fray, Avril Lavigne, Paramore, P!nk, and Green Day. I recently realized that when I’m in college, and present-day middle schoolers are my age, they’ll look back on songs like “Turn Down For What”, to remind them of the pre-pubescent era of their lives.

It concerns me that kids only a few years younger than me are missing out on the experience of growing up on certain music, that they can later look back on. In a way, they’re being robbed, and they don’t even know it.