DID YOU READ

Made in Portlandia

Made in Portlandia (photo)

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In 2008, the dream of the ’90s brought me to Portland. At the time, of course, I didn’t realize that’s what drew me here. I’m 29 years old; in the ’90s, my dreams were usually about Neve Campbell, hanging out with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin or, for some reason, fronting a dancehall reggae band. Even just before moving here, I wasn’t totally cognizant of what relocating to Portland “meant.” All I knew is I wanted to finally get out of the Southern California beach town I grew up in and go to a place harboring big-city culture within small-town geography, and San Francisco was too expensive. A job opportunity put Portland on my radar. The job never materialized. I ended up here anyway.

Over the last three years, though, I’ve come to the conclusion that Portland is where I’ve always belonged–and not only because the weather is more conducive to my wardrobe. “Portlandia” introduced itself by having Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein define the culture they would be lampooning via a synth-pop song-and-dance number, but “The Dream of the ’90s” didn’t register with me as a skewering. For me, it was a valentine to all the things that have made me fall in love with Portland. I don’t have any piercings or tattoos, I didn’t study clowning in college (though in retrospect, it might’ve been a better decision than majoring in journalism), and despite what my subconscious used to tell me, I’ve never had much desire to be in a band, reggae or otherwise, but I’m glad to live somewhere in which those things are part of overarching value system. I enjoy being surrounded by people living absurdly. And there’s no place in America that accommodates absurdity more than Portland.

I’m aware that makes it seem as if I’m romanticizing the notion of delaying adulthood. I would argue, however, that what Portland is about is redefining what it means to be an adult, not shirking it all together. That whole thing about this being the city where “young people go to retire” is funny but not totally true. If Portlanders are unambitious–and that’s a relative term to begin with–at least they are passionate about their lack of ambition. You know what offends me far more than artisanal light bulb manufacturers and adult dodgeball leagues? People whose only goal is making enough money to afford to live in a region where the temperature dropping below 75 degrees is considered a “cold snap.” I would never fully slander my hometown–Oxnard, California, known for producing strawberries, underground hip-hop producer Madlib, and gang violence of both the Latino and surf-punk variety–but that’s the prevailing attitude of a lot of my peers who never left. It was a beautiful, culturally diverse place to grow up, but it’s not where I wanted to spend my late 20s. I wanted to spend them in a place where my neighbor works 15 hours per week at a local co-op and the rest of their time in the basement recording a ukulele folk album.

I didn’t really know that about myself until I came to Portland, and despite conventional thought, I think that’s true of most of the city’s transplants. Contrary to popular belief, Portland does not put out a Bat-signal for freaks, weirdos and (ugh, I hate to use this word because it’s lost all meaning at this point, but it feels obligatory) hipsters. People wind up here for whatever reason, and the weirdness gets yanked out of them and added to a culture that’s still being defined. “Portlandia” straddles a line between mocking and celebrating that culture; to hear locals discuss it, the side to which it leans is a matter of interpretation. So I prefer to think of it as a tribute. And that’s how I plan to treat my space on this blog: As an homage to those who dare to live absurdly, in the most absurd place on earth.

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

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

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
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Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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