How I Will Be Covering Rick and Morty Season 3

If you are currently unaware, Adult Swim hosted an April Fool’s Day stream in which they looped the long-anticipated season 3 premiere of Rick and Morty. Although we will tragically have to wait until summer for the remaining nine episodes, I thought now would be an appropriate time to discuss how I will be covering the upcoming season.

If you remember back to late summer/early fall of 2015, when season 2 was in its prime, I was writing weekly episode reviews. Similar in style to my current One Piece chapter reviews, I would analyze the episode, and speculate its implications on the overall narrative.

For season 3, we are going to be doing something a tad bit different. I will still be covering each episode, conducting the same thorough analysis. It is the medium, however, that will change.

Over on my YouTube channel (the link to which you can find under the YouTube Channel section of this blog), my friend Zack (123zc1) and I have been podcasting for almost an entire year. Our main show is The Two Fine-Looking Brothers Podcast, in which we discuss whatever we wish to on our own schedule. When RWBY Volume 4 debuted, I was working in Washington, D.C. I would not have had the time to write weekly episode reviews. In order to still cover the show, I decided to create a spinoff podcast titled The Fine-Looking Brothers Talk RWBY. Along with our friend Alberto, Zack and I covered each episode with the same level of detail and care I would have used in my text reviews. This podcast blew up in a sense, quickly becoming my most popular creative product to date.

In order to fill the void on my YouTube channel that the RWBY hiatus has created, we have decided to start a spiritual successor podcast. That’s right, The Fine-Looking Brothers Talk Rick and Morty is on its way! In other words, I will still be sharing my opinions on a weekly basis, just not on this blog. If you’re sick of hearing just what I have to say, the opinions of my co-hosts Zack and Alberto should tide you over. Feel free to subscribe to my YouTube channel in order to ensure you don’t miss an episode.

The premiere podcast on S3, E1 will be uploaded this week, while the rest of the series will coincide with the airing of the remaining episodes this summer. I hope you all enjoy this change of pace, and I look forward to hearing your feedback.

The Smash Pros: The Art of Long-Form Comedy

In my opinion, long-form comedy is the most satisfying form of comedy out there. Although I do love stand-up and short videos, to me, the pinnacle of the genre comes in the form of the the long game. The core of the artform of comedy is jokes: setup and punchline in that order. However, I believe that, if executed properly, a long joke can serve as the best the genre has to offer.

As explaining this with simple vocabulary is a bit of a challenge, I will use a case study. Garrett’s Response to the Falsely Made Poorly Played Stream is one of my favorite pieces of comedy of all time. This excerpt from internet comedy group Mega64’s 2013 MLK Day stream is essentially a 41 minute joke. Despite its mammoth length, it still manages to follow the comedic formula we have all become accustomed to. The setup to the joke is purposely made to be excruciatingly lengthy. This makes the punchline, which encompaces the last 5-10 minutes of the video, even more rewarding. If you are a fan of Mega64, or of good comedy in general, I would highly recommend checking out this masterpiece.

For a few years, this video remained in my consciousness as the cream of the crop when it comes to long-form comedy. When explaining that style of humor to others, that was the video I would always recommend. However, I recently discovered a series that not only is the best piece of long-form comedy ever made, but is one of the best written pieces of media. This is the YouTube mockumentary The Smash Pros.

A spoof of The Smash Brothers (a popular documentary that examines the competitive Super Smash Bros. Melee community), The Smash Pros is far from a simple derivative parody. It’s very hard to explain The Smash Pros to someone who hasn’t seen it. Saying it’s a mockumentary of a sub-par documentary about the competitive Melee scene doesn’t do the series the justice it deserves. I guess the best way to describe it would be that it takes a simple comedic premise, and develops an entire world, with its own rules, unforgettable characters, and flawless execution of long-form humor.

The first two episodes of The Smash Pros are admittedly very difficult to get through upon first viewing. The constant barrage of information that the writers throw at you may seem overwhelming at first. When I tried to watch the series for the first time, I dropped it after episode 2. I thought I just didn’t get it; I wasn’t a hardcore smasher. However, I urge you to push through. The Smash Pros is a series that needs to be consumed from start to finish before any judgement is passed. Upon completion, you will realise that a majority of this barrage is actually the setup points for the massive, climactic punchline that is Episode 5: The Grand Finale.

One of the key aspects I must point out is that, no matter how absurd they may seem, The Smash Pros universe is bound by rules. In what is probably one of the greatest climaxes and conclusions in writing history, The Grand Finale sees the slow collapse of this rule system. In the epicenter of this collapse is the genius payoff to the massive joke that is The Smash Pros. Although the comedic formula is the same, the setup and punchline is extended over an entire show. It gives the viewer an illusion of feeling lost; maybe they just don’t get it. But, if the viewer is patient enough to stick with it to the end, they realize that that they were supposed to feel lost; they were still in the setup. Their minds will hopefully be just as blown during the payoff as mine was, leading to one of the most satisfying and rewarding punchlines in the history of comedy.

The only series I can say comes close to this radical extension of the humor formula is Curb Your Enthusiasm. Curb enters the long-form comedy fray via its seasonal arcs. However, even then, these arcs are not present in every season. Furthermore, not every episode within a season weaves into the setup and payoff based narrative of said arcs.

Please be patient with The Smash Pros. Don’t make the same mistake I did upon my first viewing. Just power through, and you will be rewarded for your loyalty with one of the greatest pieces of comedy in history. Stay tuned for some more in-depth Smash Pros analysis in the near future. I have so much more to talk about, and I hope you’ll stick with me as I do so.

Top Ten Jewish Podcasts: Reader Edition

Note: This article was initially published on the Moment Magazine official site on 9/13/16. 

Link: http://www.momentmag.com/top-ten-jewish-podcasts-reader-edition/

This past July, we gave you a list of some of our favorite Jewish podcasts. We were soon inundated with recommendations for other podcasts readers felt we overlooked. We’ve done some listening ourselves, and came up with ten more Jewish podcasts for you to enjoy. If our last list didn’t turn you into a podcast lover, this one just may do the trick.

screen-shot-2016-09-09-at-4-19-49-pmUnorthodox

Debuted by Tablet last summer,“Unorthodox” is a self-proclaimed “smart, fresh, fun take on Jewish news and culture.” This weekly podcast is hosted by Tablet editor-at-large Mark Oppenheimer and features writers Liel Leibovitz and Stephanie Butnick. Guests have included include best-selling author A.J. Jacobs, essayist Sloane Crosley and Jewish Voice for Peace executive director Rebecca Vilkomerson. If you want to hear about “everything from the presidential elections to Amy Schumer, Israel to Drake,” “Unorthodox” is for you.

screen-shot-2016-09-09-at-4-23-52-pmBarr’s Banter

Rabbi Robert B. Barr has been putting a rabbi’s perspective on current events since 2007. As the founding rabbi of Congregation Beth Adam in Cincinnati, Barr is a champion of the Humanistic Judaism movement. Discussing everything from the Syrian refugee crisis to the high holidays, Barr has tackled hundreds of topics in his nine-year-old show. With each episode in the two-minute range, “Barr’s Banter” is an easy addition to your weekly routine.

screen-shot-2016-09-09-at-4-25-13-pmThe Book of Life

“The Book of Life” is a podcast all about Jewish media. Whether it’s books, music or films, if it’s Jewish, it’s covered. The show is hosted by biblical fiction author and librarian of Congregation B’nai Israel in Boca Raton, Florida, Heidi Rabinowitz. She has interviewed many renowned Jewish creatives, including author Angela Cerrito and filmmaker Roberta Grossman.

screen-shot-2016-09-09-at-4-18-35-pmJudaism Unbound

“Judaism Unbound” is a “project that catalyzes and supports grassroots efforts by ‘disaffected but hopeful’ American Jews to re-imagine and re-design Jewish life in America for the 21st century.” In other words, the main goal of the podcast is to construct a Jewish lifestyle that fits into modern-day American society. The show is hosted by Daniel Libenson and Lex Rofes, the heads of the Institute for the Next Jewish Future, an organization with the same goal as its podcast. Join Libenson and Rofes as they interview guests such as author Richard Elliott Friedman and American Jewish historian Jonathan Sarna, all in the name of evolving Judaism.

screen-shot-2016-09-09-at-4-16-53-pmTreyf

Are you a Jew living in North America? Do you have an interest in (left-wing) politics? If one or both of these apply, “Treyf” might be the podcast for you. As a self-described “debatably Jewish podcast,” “Treyf” addresses some of the thornier political discussions taking place in North American Jewish communities, from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement to social and racial justice. The episodes’ relatively short length (anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes) does not limit their guest repertoire. Writer Mark Tseng Putterman and journalist Josh Nathan are some of the many voices “Treyf” has recruited to facilitate discussion of the Jewish political sphere.

13227095_1755939367958664_5595034377956959036_nReally Interesting Jews

Hosted by Rabbi Evan Schultz of Congregation B’nai Israel in Bridgeport, Connecticut, RIJ seeks to introduce American Jewry to the people who are working to change their communities. Whether it be thinkers, project facilitators, or conversors, RIJ wants you to know all about them. Some of the revolutionists that have been featured on the podcast include spiritual community founder Lizzi Heydemann and Ruth Messinger, former president of the American Jewish World Service. Schultz states his goal for the podcast clearly: “…my hope is that their stories will spark conversations in your homes, communities and synagogues.”

screen-shot-2016-09-09-at-4-13-43-pmNew Books Network—Jewish Studies

The Jewish Studies subsection of the New Books Network of podcasts tackles a new Judaism-related book each week. Rather than simply discussing each book, NBN takes the time to interview their authors. Some of these writers include Jonathan Garb, author of Yearnings of the Soul, and Robert O’Kell, author of Disraeli.

screen-shot-2016-09-09-at-4-11-51-pmKaddish

Death is a difficult subject matter for anyone, regardless of religion. Student Rabbi Ariana Katz hopes to ease the struggle with her podcast, “Kaddish,” which focuses on mourning rituals and customs. With a variety of guests and first-person stories, Katz strives to provide listeners with a deep and contextualized look at death. “There is a dearth of death education, and there is a romanticising, exoticizing, and sexualizing of death,” the show’s description reads. “Kaddish aims to stay in the muck, the complicated, unsexy, terrifying places, because those too are a part of grief.”

screen-shot-2016-09-12-at-1-30-00-pm

Stuff Jews Should Know

The title says it all. Join Mottle and Batya Wolfe as they discuss different Jewish essentials and topics—holidays, landmarks, traditions, laws—in under a half an hour, from Purim to the Temple Mount. You’ll be an expert in no time.

screen-shot-2016-09-09-at-4-10-21-pmOMGWTFBIBLE

Last but definitely not least, OMGWTFBIBLE describes itself as a “brand-new English translation of the Hebrew bible.” What OMGWTFBIBLE really is is a rebranding and retelling of the Torah as “the world’s oldest comedy serial” as opposed to a traditional (and serious) religious text. As host David Tuchman writes, “Doesn’t it just plain suck that the Old Testament isn’t cool anymore? The book’s got everything: genocide, incest, and even talking donkeys!”

Google Chrome is Trying to Eliminate the Need for Flash

Note: This article was initially published on the digital marketing site DigitalCoCo on 8/10/16.

Link: http://digitalcoco.com/blog/2016/8/10/google-chrome-is-trying-to-eliminate-the-need-for-flash

download (5).jpegFlash: what once was one of the most popular plug-ins for video, gaming and animation on the internet, is on its last legs. According to a report by the Guardian, ever since YouTube, formerly the most prominent Flash-heavy website,ceased using the format in January 2015, Flash has been slowly fading into the depths of obscurity.

However, the true nail in the coffin may be closer than we think. A CNET report explained that Google has announced plans to expedite Flash’s inevitable demise by removing it from their own browser, Google Chrome. They cited battery drainage and security issues as the two most apparent reasons behind Google’s upcoming abandonment of the format.

The void that the removal of Flash will leave behind will not remain empty. Google plans to replace the format with HTML5.

WhatIs.com defines HTML5 as the newest version of HTML, the most common programing language used to construct websites. But unlike its predecessors HTML5 will be able to support audio and video content, a feature once dominated by Flash.

“Google said the change will lead to improved security, reduced power consumption and faster page load times,” said CNET’s report.

They explained that this process will not be immediate. Chrome 53’s September release will begin to remove emphasis from Flash by blocking all flash-based content. However, the full replacement will occur in December, with the release of Chrome 55.

A statement by Adobe, the company behind Flash, explained, “Google’s decision is part of this industry-wide evolution that Adobe is heavily invested in.”

WhatsApp Introduces Desktop Version of the Popular Messaging Platform

Note: This article was initially published on the digital marketing site DigitalCoCo on 7/27/16.

Link: http://digitalcoco.com/blog/2016/7/20/whatsapp-introduces-desktop-version-of-the-popular-messaging-platform

download (4).jpegWhatsApp is, without a doubt, the most popular messaging app (see report). Over one billion people of the Earth’s seven billion population actively use the platform. With something this successful, it makes no sense to change the formula, right? After all, the saying is don’t fix what isn’t broken. WhatsApp isn’t taking that adage for an answer.

According to a report by Forbes, WhatsApp launched its desktop app for both Mac and Windows computers. From now on, WhatsApp users will be able to browse the internet without having to stop their conversation.

Forbes cited a blog post from the official WhatsApp site, quoting, “Because the app runs natively on your desktop, you’ll have support for native desktop notifications, better keyboard shortcuts, and more.”

Although undoubtedly excited about these features, WhatsApp users may worry that they will have to manage two separate accounts (one for mobile and another for desktop). This is not the case.

“The apps sync with a WhatsApp user’s account on their mobile device, once they’ve downloaded them and scanned a QR code from inside Settings > WhatsApp Web on the mobile app,” the report explained.

Although this may seem like a fresh new direction for the platform, this isn’t WhatsApp’s first endeavour into the computer world. WhatsApp launched a web browser app in 2015. However, the new desktop app will alleviate the issue of having to sift through tabs to find your chats.

The report notes the risk that the desktop app’s launch posed. Competition has become more tense amongst desktop messaging services. Messengers such as Slack and AIM will need to step up their game in order to compete with the chatting giant.

This new app may even appeal to businesses. As WhatsApp provides free international communication, it could serve as an invaluable tool for international corporations. They now have a quick and easy alternative method to speak with their overseas partners.

Evidently, WhatsApp’s move to desktop is a big step forward for the messaging industry. Not only will it possibly lead millions of users to another form of WhatsApp, but it will strengthen its position in competition. WhatsApp’s desktop app is a great new tool for both the average computer user, and large businesses. Read more

These Restaurant Apps are Popular Amongst Eaters

Note: This article was initially published on the restaurant trade site Restaurant Social Media Index on 7/20/16.

Link: http://rsmindex.com/blog/2016/7/20/these-restaurant-apps-are-popular-amongst-eaters

download (2).jpegSocial media, particularly on the mobile app spectrum, is one of the largest growing industries of the past decade. Almost everyone uses some form of social media apps. However, not almost everyone, but literally everyone, needs to eat.

Naturally, a conglomeration of both social media apps and the restaurant industry is meant to be. Many restaurant chains have already taken advantage of this trend, constructing their own apps and social media accounts to reach out to customers. However, a new type of app is shaping the restaurant industry, one download at a time.

There is an emerging collection of popular apps that don’t just focus on one restaurant or chain, but on the industry as a whole. These allow you to compare and contrast, read reviews and sometimes even order in food from nearby eateries. Today, I want to take a look at some of the most popular of these apps and discuss what makes them stand out amongst the competition.

A list by Paste Magazine cites EAT24 as a unique restaurant app. Recently acquired byYelp, not only does EAT24 provide you with reviews and star-based ratings of places you may want to eat at, but also allows you to order food in from over 25 thousand restaurants. That’s right, the creators of the app also run a delivery service. Although delivery times and fees differ for each restaurant, the process works the same for any listed. Therefore, you can order whichever type of cuisine you are in the mood for without having to leave the comfort of your own home.

Paste Magazine also lists Zagat as a popular dining app. Zagat allows you to filter restaurant options by cuisine type, location and, most importantly, price. Therefore, you save time by eliminating restaurants out of your price range right off the bat. With a unique scoring system that takes food, decoration and service into account, you can quickly find the dining location that’s perfect for you.

The also listed Dining Grades works similarly to Zagat, but with one key difference. It mainly focuses on a factor that its competitor left out: cleanliness. Using a letter scoring system, Dining Grades shows you which restaurants are clean enough to meet your standards. Whether you want a spotless, fine-dining environment, or simply just want to avoid another case of food poisoning, Dining Grades has you covered.

Mashable makes note of discount apps such as Groupon and Livingsocial on its list. Both work very similarly, allowing you to purchase coupons, and sometimes even free meals, for your favorite dining locations. Although they don’t only focus on the restaurant industry, that facet of these apps is one of their most popular.

Mashable also takes healthiness into account when listing Unified Lifestyle. This app catalogs a massive amount of individual restaurants, as well as chains. After finding the perfect restaurant for you, and dining there, you can use the app to record your caloric intake from the meal. This will allow you to better balance your daily calories and not go overboard. The app will prove especially helpful if you are someone who eats out very often.

Clearly, there are many apps out there to improve your dining experience. From easy delivery to health management, today, there’s an app for almost anything restaurant related. For more app recommendations, read more.

Restaurants are Teaming Up With PR Firms for their Social Media Campaigns

Note: This article was initially published on the restaurant trade site Restaurant Social Media Index on 7/27/16.

Link: http://rsmindex.com/blog/2016/7/20/restaurants-are-teaming-up-with-pr-firms-for-their-social-media-campaigns

A restaurdownload (1).jpegant teaming up with a PR firm typically has a negative connotation. Consumers are accustomed to associate that pairing with a health issue or lawsuit. Wipe that connection out of your brain, because there’s a new reason why restaurants and PR firms are coming together.

Restaurants are partnering with PR firms to strengthen their social media campaigns. Areport by Cron explains why this may be.

Cron explains that PR firms use social media for their clients in many ways. They often make accounts, keep track of analytics and narrow down which platforms to use for their clients. They also help train their clients on how to effectively use social media for themselves. Occasionally, PR firms are even responsible for creating social media content for their clients.

A recent example of a restaurant chain taking advantage of what PR firms have to offer when it comes to social media is Panda Express. The popular Chinese food chain Panda Express recently announced its partnership with PR firm Havas Formula for its social media campaign.

A report by QSR Magazine quoted Panda Express’ Vice President of Guest Marketing Dave Wallinga to better explain why.

“Havas Formula was selected due to its proven track record in developing integrated marketing campaigns and implementing best-in-class public relations and social media programs,” he said.

He explained that the pitches Havas Formula gave him perfectly matched with the goals of his chain, rendering them a perfect fit.

Although Panda Express is not the first, nor will it be the last, to partner with a PR firm for social media, it might be one of the biggest. As one of the largest fast casual chains in the nation, it becomes a trend setter when it makes any major decision, let alone partnering with a PR firm.

A list by The Muse explained what you should make sure you know before hiring a PR firm. Although this list isn’t targeted specifically towards restaurants and social media campaigns, it applies to them as equally as it does any other type of company and campaign.

The Muse urges you to pick a firm that will not only help you reach a large audience, but one that will also specifically match up with the ideals and values of your target demographic. Therefore, you will attract new customers, as well as keep returning ones, with your social media.

You must also make sure to know the exact members of the firm you are working with, or the core team behind your project. Therefore, you can have easier communication with the firm, which in turn will lead to stronger social media content. Read more