IT’S LIKE THAT:  Goodbye (photo)

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Two summers ago I was tempted into playing a game of street ball. It actually didn’t take much convincing–the sound of a basketball bouncing off the pavement was enough to lure me in.

(left: It all started with a game of hoops.)

Near the end of the pick-up game I dove out of bounds for a loose ball. Like I skateboarder, I’ve been trained to fall over the years, but on this evening I came down awkwardly on my right wrist. Having just saved the ball from going out of bounds, I rose to my feet, ran down the to the far side of the court, caught a bounce pass, put a left-handed lay-up off the backboard, and cinched victory for my team.

Our win–like many in street ball–was short lived, because the team that had “next” was, well, up next. As much as I wanted to run another game, I just couldn’t. Something didn’t feel right with my wrist.

The next morning, I had my doctor look at it, and long story short, my wrist wasn’t broken, but it was severely sprained with a partial tear in the ligaments. If I was a professional athlete being paid millions of dollars to win a championship for my NBA franchise, I’m sure I would have immediately gone into surgery to have my wrist fixed, but considering my last name was not Wade, James, or Bryant, I was just given a brace and told not to use my wrist until I could comfortably move it.

Fortunately, most of my on-air television gigs that summer were covering skateboard, freestyle motocross, and BMX events. Instead of the brace making me stand out, I actually blended in with most of the banged-up athletes and action sports personalities I came in contact with.

That summer was a rough one, especially walking past basketball courts and knowing that I couldn’t play. I also had to learn how to brush my teeth with my left hand and participate in various mid-summer activities with using only one arm (it’s tough setting a volleyball or playing miniature golf without having both hands at your disposable).

A year later, though my doctors discouraged me from doing so, I accepted an offer from IFC.com to start up a music blog (Independent Ear). Though I’m not a writer by trade, and considering that typing blog postings is more strenuous on my injured wrist than holding a microphone on television, I decided to give it a go nonetheless.

A few months into the endeavor my injury acted up as I could barely even twist my wrist to reach the enter button (if only that damn return key was on the left side of the keyboard). But like Willis Reed in Game 7 of the 1970 NBA finals or Hines Ward in the most recent Super Bowl, I decided to play with the pain.

A team of doctors advised me that if I continued writing lengthy blog postings day after day, there was a good chance that I would never be able to use my right wrist again and that I could say goodbye to right-handed jump shots, giving people high-fives, strumming a guitar, eating corn on the cob how it’s traditionally supposed to be eaten, running my fingers through my wife’s hair, and putting a binky in our future children’s mouths.

People who have sprained various parts of their body will tell you that sometimes a sprain never fully heals. Two years later, and my right wrist has not been the same since before that fateful pickup basketball game. Because I’d like to do all the things mentioned above (especially eating corn on the cobb)–and though it pains me to say this–today I am officially announcing my retirement from the world of blogging.

I would like to take this time to thank all of you for reading the Indie Ear Blog for the last year and three months. I never did give Perez Hilton or Brooklyn Vegan a run for their money, but if any of you shared a chuckle, learned something about a band, or got turned on to some good new music that you wouldn’t have otherwise, then I consider my time at IFC.com well spent.

Though many of my blogging days consisted of sitting in a pair of boxers typing out music musings from my apartment, the Independent Ear did give me a chance to do a handful of really cool things. We got to snoop around the Beastie Boys Oscilloscope Laboratories, flew out to San Francisco and hung out with Lars Ulrich in Metallica’s Headquarters, chatted with some brilliantly-minded music folks for IFC’s Independent Music Panels, and got to go backstage at various concerts and music festivals, including SXSW and Pitchfork (where we got free ice cream and burritos, mmm).

I don’t know how much of a behind-the-scenes vibe you get while watching IFC or reading IFC.com, but I am amazed by how hardworking everyone is here. It seems like everyone does the job of three or four mortals (especially the web staff). A tip of my cap to you who wear many.

Thank you to all the Troys, Petes, Bobs, Joes, Steves, and Grey Russians who have left hilarious comments over the last year. Thanks to Rachel, Sarah, and James for helping me out with blog postings (as you know, it’s not always easy to come up with topics to write about). Thanks to Kent for bringing me aboard (special shout-out to Rex too), and thanks to Alison, Anna, Colin, Craig, Gero, Jesse, Jonathan, Julie, and Melianthe for showing me the way. If I forgot anyone, expect an apology and a fist pound in person.

Thanks to all of you for reading my ramblings–I truly appreciate it. If I weren’t so tone deaf I’d sing Boyz II Men’s “It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday” or Green Day’s “Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)“, and if my team of highly trained medical experts wouldn’t have advised me against it, I’d wave goodbye to all of 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.