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Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson (photo)

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Michael Jackson has stunned me all my life. I couldn’t even tie my shoes when Off the Wall came out in ’79 (my favorite MJ record) but I know I heard it. I know it made it into my consciousness because when I was older and played it seemingly for the first time, I found that I knew every song. The melodies were old dancing friends, the lyrics, arcane chants waiting to be remembered. Everything Michael did in the 80’s and into the 90’s was a huge event. The records were obviously colossal, the video premieres that accompanied them defined the art at the time.

“Thriller,” “Beat It,” “Billy Jean,” “Smooth Criminal,” “Black Or White,” “Man in the Mirror,” each one fundamentally influenced the entertainment industry and set trends in music, techniques, art direction, choreography, etc. The man owns dance moves, he has patents on specialized shoes. Michael’s videos were as big as movies, even bigger in some cases. His actual film appearances were less impressive, and there are surprisingly few examples. “The Wiz” is an early classic, but Michael is nearly unrecognizable – of course that would become a hallmark. His cameo in “Men In Black II” is inexplicable. On the other hand “Ghosts” and “Moonwalker” are the kinds of fantasy kids stories he seemed to inhabit with glee. My favorite is obviously the Coppola/Lucas 3-d adventure, “Captain EO.”

But more important then Michael’s ineffable influence on music (and every copy cat hard on from Justin Timberlake to whatever their names are) is his immeasurable impact on our culture. Through his art (and charities) he’s also shaped people’s lives in some not insignificant ways. And there is absolutely no one like him on Earth.

It’s easy to get lost in this wretched salvo of dispatches, rants and commentaries about his demise. Michael crashed Twitter and AOL when he died. I was once thrown out of a bar in Williamsburg for somewhat violently defending him. It wasn’t even about the allegations – anyone who is both strange and devotes their life to children is a great target for blackmail – it was about his genius as an artist. Unfortunately, a lot of fools these days don’t understand that, and sometimes need to be straight. By the way the bartenders were pouring vodka on the bar and drinking it up through coke straws so, well I tried my best to educate them. People don’t realize where that one beat or that look came from in the first place, let alone that the odd, perfectionist man who devised it was Michael Jackson.

His song “We Are the World,” penned with Lionel Richie and backed by the supergroup (to end all upergroups) USA for Africa, was appreciated even in my Republican household. It’s still one of the best things anyone’s ever seen.

Goodbye Michael. He sought to better the world through music. Really, nothing else need be said.


Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.


Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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GIFs via Giphy

Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:


The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.


They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!


Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.


Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.



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.