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Conquest of Paradise

Conquest of Paradise (photo)

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The cabin of the outdated 757 grew dark as we passed through storm clouds on our descent into Jamaican airspace. Everything on the decrepit air ship began to creak and moan. The cathode ray tube screens from the 80’s anchored to the ceiling shook with either Howie Mandel or colored static, it didn’t make much difference. My stomach dropped into my balls, then tried to leave my body through my throat. I tried to focus on a point on the ceiling that wasn’t in motion and noticed it was so antique it actually had a patina. A woman up in first class screamed. I wondered how many internal parts had patinas too and which ones were chaffed, ready to spark and blow a wing off.

I grabbed the skymall catalogue and began frantically paging through it, looking for frivolous household products to ogle. I find that soothes me during tumultuous landings, and this was the worst. But one can’t help wondering what the hell we need all that for when plummeting toward an island where many people live with little more than love, music and great coffee. Or do they? I thought about that jerkoff Christopher Columbus. Then Ridley Scott’s “1492: Conquest of Paradise” flashed before my eyes. Scored by the great Vangelis (“Chariots of Fire”, “Bladerunner”), it’s my favorite film about genocide. Gerard Depardieu’s Columbus is more enlightened than the facts of history seem to dictate. But even if he was the passionate and relatively tolerant adventurer who treated indigenous nobles with respect, he helped pave the way for those who did not.

The fact is Jamaica, which Columbus landed on after first landing in “San Salvador,” was once an Arawak Indian paradise. The island’s name comes from the Arawak word xaymaca, but not a single Arawak remains on it. Modern day Jamaicans, like most other Caribbean nations, are descendants of former African slaves and European settlers, the original people wiped off the face of the earth for lust of gold, coffee, tobacco and spices.

Vangelis‘ compositions are sometimes too big and showy, sometimes too heavy handed in 1492 – here feel this way now. But in a way, he expertly captures the sound of holier than thou gold farmers setting out with bad breath to subjugate those they deem inferior (while pilfering their superior resources). The hymnal humming warms up the main theme while adding to the manifest destiny vibe, without which the score may sound too synthetic. Vangelis relies heavily on electronics, and while that’s perfect for hunting down “skin jobs” in flying cars it would be detrimental to a late medieval period piece.The soundtrack was more successful than the long winded film, which I suspect played to blind eyes. We do still celebrate Christopher Columbus, which is nothing short of baffling. If you thought the holocaust was bad, read up on the total genocide of these people whose island homes provided the cash crops that funded European expansion and the conquest of the “New World.”

A few feet from the ground, when it was clear to the pilot that we would crash, my plane rocketed back into the exploding sky. Landing aborted, accompanied by a soundtrack of gasps and children wailing, no Vangelis. During the ensuing 30 minutes of circling through turbulence for another attempt I had time to ogle every page of the skymall. But I don’t need any of that shit. All I need is music, film, and love. And great coffee. Maybe my laptop.

“Conquest of Paradise” by Vangelis.

Hope you had a thought provoking 4th of July. No more Caribbean, I’m back and moving on…. for now.


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.