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“hello, my friends come on, have a seat”

“hello, my friends come on, have a seat” (photo)

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I came into this world a surprise to a Father who, after 4 kids with his first loving wife, had “fixed” himself, literally. An old school doctor, legend has it he did it one morning in the bathroom at home. Turns out my Mother, though not even very religious, had been praying for a miracle knowing full well of her husband’s medical status and surgical dexterity. A biological mistake or divine intervention I cannot say, but one late afternoon in the mid 70’s, I was born to a Korean Father and an Italian Mother with “Nights In White Satin” playing on a cassette tape my Mother brought with her to the Hospital.

(Left: You have vastly more mp3’s than I, but I do have this giant boombox.)

But this is not about how I was born wearing a white suit singing the Moody Blues or that I’m a musical prodigy. I was not a musical child in the least, and I’m a huge hack with a guitar. Compared to most, I came late to a love for music. Like many, I had older brothers who continuously played the Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, but music was just something adorning the background. Movies were my thing. I was at the theater every single weekend from age 5 onward, like clockwork, the result of both desire and the planned scheduling that comes with a divorce. It wasn’t until my best friend gave me a couple tapes in third grade, that I began to listen to music on my own. Those two tapes, INXS “Listen Like Thieves” and The Art of Noise “Into Battle With the Art of Noise” peaked my interest. Later it was N.W.A. Then it was Nirvana, then Radiohead, then Elliot Smith, then TV on the Radio, these revelations keep coming.

Still, my dirt bike gang, soccer team, search for aliens, and Dungeons and Dragons sessions (and anything else Spielberg totally nails about an early 80’s childhood in E.T.) were my focus. Around the same time, we went to see “Conan the Barbarian” and it blew our minds apart the same way “Star Wars” had but I was old enough to appreciate it more completely. Afterward, we had that incredible score by Basil Poledouris (composer of other violent male fantasy films such as “Red Dawn,” “Flesh+Blood,” “RoboCop,”) stuck in our heads. With homemade dogwood bows and toy swords we hummed and yelled that theme song in unison, blood brothers dashing through backyard woods, butchering foes by the score. The lamentations of their women were heard echoing through hill and dale, I can assure you.

That’s the first time I recall having an awareness of the combined power of music and film, how it can hold sway over the mind, how it can “magnify” as Cillian Murphy put it to me recently. Of course, the flip side is how ruinous music can be to a film, how quickly a scene can cheapen. In truth, I dislike more than I like. Heavy handed scores and bad trendy songs are too common, but they make the good stuff all the more worth celebrating. I’ll be musing about both the good and the bad and talking to people about this oft overlooked intersection of music and film.

Fret not hungry music lovers, I won’t be ignoring indie bands in favor of soundtrack reviews or childhood swords and sandals stories. I’ve worked in film more recently than the music industry, but I was a booking agent/publicist/venue hustler for much longer. I’ve seen so many shows I’m already half deaf in one ear. The other one I’ll be putting to the ground to serve up gems when I can and continue the good work already begun here. I have broad tastes, but find myself returning more to those old roots between new discoveries. Like the Fleetwood Mac song says, “So I’m back to the velvet underground… back to the gypsy that I was.” I also like to quote Silver Jews lyrics in blog post titles.

How about you?



Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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GIFs via Giphy

Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”


IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?

Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!

Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.

Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 


IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.


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.