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Sometimes I forget to realize that not everyone knows about SXSW. Maybe some people think it’s a vacation resort that hands out oval decals? Maybe they think it’s a sport? Possibly an airport? Before you get SXSW confused with OBX or LAX, let me be kind enough to explain (and fear not my friends, no question is a stupid question. I promise not to roll my eyes at you like the kid in tight jeans working the CD section at Best Buy):

SXSW, stands for South by Southwest, and believe me, the abbreviation is a lifesaver. Could you imagine having to type out South By Southwest a couple thousand times (talk about carpal tunnel)? SXSW (see how easy that is) is a music and media conference held yearly in Austin, TX. It begins with a film festival, followed by four intense days of music (Wednesday-Saturday). Originally, afternoons were used for attending music conferences and panel discussions, while the evening hours were reserved for taking in live performances from various up-and-coming bands. In the last few years though, it seems like acts –of all different stature and genres–are playing morning, noon, and night.

SXSW doesn’t have one main stage, instead, there are various venues in which artists perform. Upon your first visit to the festival, you’ll be asking yourself, “How does Austin squeeze so many live music venues into such little space?” It’s probably the only time in your life you can walk a total of five blocks and see three of your favorite bands in one night.

If you are attending your first SXSW this year, or planning a trip to the festival sometime in the future, here are some helpful tips:


Gotta start your day off right. A lot of the hotels in town have a good breakfast, but my favorite is still Las Manitas–an authentic Mexican diner that serves up huevos rancheros and freshly squeezed orange juice. It’s a bit pricey (for well-made cheap Mexican food), but every morning you’re guaranteed a tasty meal and the chance of seeing a handful of bands. It closes in the afternoon, so get there early.


The Pocket Guide
After checking into SXSW, you’ll be given a large canvass bag packed to the brim with sampler CD’s, magazines, flyers, and odd trinkets. Make sure there’s a “pocket guide” in there. This handy publication fits nicely into your back pocket, and includes a layout map of downtown and a complete music schedule. If you lose your pocket guide, you’ll be forced to refer to the official guide–which will not fit nicely into your back pocket.

Lots of good BBQ in Austin–take your pick. I’m a fan of Iron Works, not only because you get served cafeteria style (plastic tray and all), but they also serve the biggest ribs I’ve ever seen.

Surprise Show
During the past few years, the “surprise show” has become all the rage at SXSW. This poses one big problem for the concertgoer–it’s a surprise–so you don’t know when or where the surprise band is playing. A couple years ago the Beastie Boys were rumored to be playing a surprise gig at SXSW. I talked to all my contacts, kept my ear to the street, and was still misinformed. Early in the evening I got a frantic call from one of my friends, “Beasties are playing at Stubb’s in fifteen minutes.” I managed to catch the show, but the fifteen-minute sprint across town was a tad stressful. Unfortunately (for the uninformed), the surprise matinee show is starting to become more popular at SXSW. Nothing I can tell you here–you just gotta get the right information from the right people.

The La Zona Rosa Dilema
Most of the venues in Austin are very close to each other, but La Zona Rosa is one of the few that’s a bit isolated. If you want to catch a 9PM set at La Zona Rosa, just know that you’ll probably miss a good portion of the 10PM show at any other SXSW venue. Is it worth it? That’s the La Zona Rosa Dilema.


Not Too Loud With The Name Drops
Last year I made the mistake of seeing former-120 Minutes pal Matt Pinfield at a restaurant and excitedly yelled across the dining room, “Hey Matt! What’s going on?” I didn’t realize that 30 people would turn in unison and proceed to grill the music master (shouting out Pinfield’s name at SXSW is like dropping “Chris Berman” at a sports broadcaster’s convention). If I see Matt this year, I’ll be more covert when saying hello. Otherwise he may not get to eat.

The Line at Stubb’s
Stubb’s hosts more of the bigger-profile shows at SXSW. In order to beat the long lines, you usually have to get there an hour early. This Wednesday, if you really want to see R.E.M. at midnight, you’ll have to miss all of the 11PM performances (the La Zona Rosa Dilema in reverse). Are you willing to make that sacrifice?

Have Fun!
Hopefully this is implied.


New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…


IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.


IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.


The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”


Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).



Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.


Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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GIFs via Giffy

In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.


Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.


Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!



Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.


Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.


If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.