DID YOU READ

Only in Portland: Alien Nativity Scene

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Every once in a while, something comes along in Portland that is so hilariously, patently absurd that it actually makes me squeal with pleasure. Behold, the most delightful thing, the crème de la crème of “Keep Portland Weird,” the sparkling topper on the Christmas tree of the pure, unhinged Portland Id: the alien nativity scene.

Why yes, it is a fully-immersive nativity scene-cum-art installation in a former church, complete with 3D glasses, hanging LED ropes, four alien magi, and a shaman Santa Claus. It’s “not for everyone,” warn our local news anchors, while its creator, artist Matt Henderson, explains, “you wind up seeing a reflection of yourself, and that’s the symbolic message of nativity.”

This brings new meaning to “I Want to Believe.” The video below from local news outlet KGW, complete with baffled onlookers, psychedelic first-person shots through some rainbow glasses, and an extremely bemused news team, is necessary viewing. See you there.

Underworld

Under Your Spell

10 Otherworldly Romances That’ll Melt Your Heart

Spend Valentine's Day weekend with IFC's Underworld movie marathon.

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Photo Credit: Screen Gems/courtesy Everett Collection

Romance takes many forms, and that is especially true when you have a thirst for blood or laser beams coming out of your eyes.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a werewolf, a superhero, a clone, a time-traveler, or a vampire, love is the one thing that infects us all.  Read on to find out why Romeo and Juliet have nothing on these supernatural star-crossed lovers, and be sure to catch IFC’s Underworld movie marathon this Valentine’s Day weekend.

1. Cyclops/Jean Grey/Wolverine, X-Men series

The X-Men franchise is rife with romance, but the steamiest “ménage à mutant” may just be the one between Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), Cyclops (James Marsden), and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman). Their triangle is a complicated one as Jean finds herself torn between the two very different men while also trying to control her darker side, the Phoenix. This leads to Jean killing Cyclops and eventually getting stabbed through her heart by Wolverine in X-Men: The Last Stand. Yikes!  Maybe they should change the name to Ex-Men instead?


2. Willow/Tara, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Joss Whedon gave audiences some great romances on Buffy the Vampire Slayer — including the central triangle of Buffy, Angel, and Spike — but it was the love between witches Willow (Alyson Hannigan) and Tara (Amber Benson) that broke new ground for its sensitive and nuanced portrayal of a LGBT relationship.

Willow is smart and confident and isn’t even sure of her sexuality when she first meets Tara at college in a Wiccan campus group. As the two begin experimenting with spells, they realize they’re also falling for one another and become the show’s most enduring, happy couple. At least until Tara’s death in season six, a moment that still brings on the feels.


3. Selene/Michael, Underworld series

The Twilight gang pales in comparison (both literally and metaphorically) to the Lycans and Vampires of the stylish Underworld franchise. If you’re looking for an epic vampire/werewolf romance set amidst an epic vampire/werewolf war, Underworld handily delivers in the form of leather catsuited Selene (Kate Beckinsale) and shaggy blonde hunk Michael (a post-Felicity Scott Speedman). As they work together to stop the Vampire/Lycan war, they give into their passions while also kicking butt in skintight leather. Love at first bite indeed.


4. Spider-man/Mary Jane Watson, Spider-man

After rushing to the aid of beautiful girl-next-door Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), the Amazing Spider-man is rewarded with an upside-down kiss that is still one of the most romantic moments in comic book movie history. For Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire), the shy, lovable dork beneath the mask, his rain-soaked makeout session is the culmination of years of unrequited love and one very powerful spider bite. As the films progress, Peter tries pushing MJ away in an attempt to protect her from his enemies, but their web of love is just too powerful. And you know, with great power, comes great responsibility.


5. Molly/Sam, Ghost

When it comes to supernatural romance, you really can’t beat Molly and Sam from the 1990 hit film Ghost. Demi Moore goes crazy for Swayze like the rest of us, and the pair make pottery sexier than it’s ever been.

When Sam is murdered, he’s forced to communicate through con artist turned real psychic, Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg in her Academy Award-winning role) to warn Molly she is still in danger from his co-worker, Carl (a pre-Scandal Tony Goldwyn). Molly doesn’t believe Oda is telling the truth, so Sam proves it by sliding a penny up the wall and then possessing Oda so he and Molly can share one last romantic dance together (but not the dirty kind). We’d pay a penny for a dance with Patrick Swayze ANY day.


6. Cosima/Delphine, Orphan Black

It stands to reason there would be at least one complicated romance on a show about clones, and none more complicated than the one between clone Cosima (Tatiana Maslany) and Dr. Delphine Cormier (Evelyne Brochu) on BBC America’s hit drama Orphan Black.

Cosima is a PhD student focusing on evolutionary developmental biology at the University of Minnesota when she meets Delphine, a research associate from the nefarious Dyad Institute, posing as a fellow immunology student. The two fall in love, but their happiness is brief once Dyad and the other members of Clone Club get involved. Here’s hoping Cosima finds love in season four of Orphan Black. Girlfriend could use a break.


7. Aragorn/Arwen, Lord of the Rings

On a picturesque bridge in Rivendell amidst some stellar mood-lighting and dreamy Elvish language with English subtitles for us non-Middle Earthlings, Arwen (Liv Tyler) and Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) bind their souls to one another, pledging to love each other no matter what befalls them.

Their courtship is a matter of contention with Arwen’s father, Elrond (Hugo Weaving), who doesn’t wish to see his daughter suffer over Aragorn’s future death. The two marry after the conclusion of the War of the Ring, with Aragorn assuming his throne as King of Gondor, and Arwen forgoing her immortality to become his Queen. Is it too much to assume they asked Frodo to be their wedding ring-bearer?


8. Lafayette/Jesus, True Blood

True Blood quickly became the go-to show for supernatural sex scenes featuring future Magic Mike strippers (Joe Manganiello) and pale Nordic men with washboard abs (Hi Alexander Skarsgård!), but honestly, there was a little something for everyone, including fan favorite Bon Temps medium, Lafayette Reynolds (Nelsan Ellis).

In season three, Lafayette met his mother’s nurse, Jesus, and the two began a relationship. As they spend more time together and start doing V (short for Vampire Blood), they learn Jesus is descended from a long line of witches and that Lafayette himself has magical abilities. However, supernatural love is anything but simple, and after the pair join a coven, Lafayette becomes possessed by the dead spirit of its former leader. This relationship certainly puts a whole new spin on possessive love.


9. Nymphadora Tonks/Remus Lupin, Harry Potter series

There are lots of sad characters in the Harry Potter series, but Remus Lupin ranks among the saddest. He was bitten by a werewolf as a child, his best friend was murdered and his other best friend was wrongly imprisoned in Azkaban for it, then THAT best friend was killed by a Death Eater at the Ministry of Magic as Remus looked on. So when Lupin unexpectedly found himself in love with badass Auror and Metamorphmagus Nymphadora Tonks (she prefers to be called by her surname ONLY, thank you very much), pretty much everyone, including Lupin himself, was both elated and cautiously hopeful about their romance and eventual marriage.

Sadly, the pair met a tragic ending when both were killed by Death Eaters during the Battle of Hogwarts, leaving their son, Teddy, orphaned much like his godfather Harry Potter. Accio hankies!


10. The Doctor/Rose Tyler, Doctor Who

Speaking of wolves, Rose “Bad Wolf” Tyler (Billie Piper) captured the Doctor’s hearts from the moment he told her to “Run!” in the very first episode of the re-booted Doctor Who series. Their affection for one another grew steadily deeper during their travels in the TARDIS, whether they were stuck in 1950s London, facing down pure evil in the Satan Pit, or battling Cybermen.

But their relationship took a tragic turn during the season two finale episode, “Doomsday,” when the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) and Rose found themselves separated in parallel universes with no way of being reunited (lest two universes collapse as a result of a paradox). A sobbing Rose told a holographic transmission of the Doctor she loved him, but before he could reply, the transmission cut out, leaving our beloved Time Lord (and most of the audience) with a tear-stained face and two broken hearts all alone in the TARDIS.

One Quick Question for Justin Maurer of Clorox Girls

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In the mid-aughts, there wasn’t a more furiously fun live band in Portland than the Clorox Girls. Comprised of three Oakland expats—none of whom were females, by the way—the group played ebullient, blink-and-miss-it pop-punk with roots in the Buzzcocks and Red Kross, a song by whom the band took its name. The Girls seemed poise for a breakthrough after the release of 2007’s J’aime Les Filles on seminal L.A. label BYO Records, but after years of international touring, singer-guitarist and, at that point, lone original member Justin Maurer found himself deep in debt. He put the band on hold and relocated to Spain.

Last year, however, Maurer returned to the states and started recording under the Clorox Girls name again. He didn’t forget about Portland, though. And earlier this month, he reconvened the band’s original lineup—himself, bassist Colin Grigson and drummer Clay Silva—for a one-off reunion gig at the proudly divey Southeast Portland punk club East End. Although he now lives in Los Angeles, Maurer remembers his time in the Rose City fondly. We asked him for memories of playing shows around town in the early days. He offered several.

“We had things happen, like, people would end up cutting their hands open and rub blood on my face like warpaint. One time, we were driving to a show, and we were in this phase where we were mooning everybody. So we were sticking our asses out the window and someone threw a cinder block at our van. It almost hit me, and it actually hit the van. We opened for that band Total Chaos one time at the Paris Theater, and we all wore short jean shorts that were so short the pockets were longer than the shorts. I had a Black Flag T-shirt that says ‘Make Me Cum,’ and I made it into a cutaway shirt, and we’re opening for these tough guy punks in Total Chaos. Lots of times we threw flour into the crowd. We played Beulahland and threw a bag of flour, and it got into the ceiling fan, and it just completely fucked up the sound equipment and the microphones. The bartenders were seriously going to kick our ass. We had to clean up the mess ourselves to avoid getting beat up by the Beulahland staff. We were young and stupid, but we always tried to have a good time. Lots of alcohol, some drugs, and a lot of soaking wet Converse All-Stars.”

A Brief Interview with Fred and Carrie from “Portlandia”

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“Portlandia” stars Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein took a few minutes out of their busy schedules starring on “Saturday Night Live” and touring with Wild Flag, respectively, to sit down and talk to us about the upcoming season of “Portlandia” as well as Portlandia: The Tour. Wasn’t it nice of them to make time for their little old network? We thought so too, because we’re not just a network, we’re fans, too.

Since we spoke last year, “Portlandia” has become a huge hit. And people are putting birds on things from coast to coast.

Carrie Brownstein: We’re surprised with the incredible reaction we’ve gotten from people. It’s nice. We’re really fortunate in the response we’ve had. And birds on things are nice.

Fred Armisen: You know, we’re fortunate it’s a bird. It’s nice to look at. It could have been a lot worse.

With the success of the show, how often do people ask you about putting birds on things and declaring things are SO over? Are you sick of it at all?

Fred: I’ll never be sick of anything. It’s just nice.

Carrie: Yeah, we’re just grateful.

You have some amazing guest stars in season two including Tim Robbins, Penny Marshall, Kristen Wiig, Andy Samberg. Do you write parts for them specifically or just work them into stories?

Carrie: A little of both. Sometimes someone expresses an interest in working with us and we will try to come up with an amazing part for them. Sometimes the story comes first. Like the warlord with Tim Robbins. We write that part and had to figure out who we could reach out to for it. We’re lucky that we have been able to work with so many amazing people.

Tim Robbins strikes me as a natural warlord. Do you know the game fuck/marry/kill?

Carrie: Yes

Fred: Yes, we invented it.

Okay, so you know it then. Let’s play with some of your characters: Candace, Bryce, and Kath:

Fred: I don’t want to kill any of our characters.

Carrie: I don’t want to kill any of them, and I also don’t want to have sex with any of them. Even though there is some sex on the show, when I think about it, it’s just a blank. I mean it’s sort of like having sex with each other or ourselves. Is the third option marriage? I guess that’s an option. Although it seems impossible to imagine.

Fred: Especially the feminist bookstore ladies that’s impossible

Carrie: Kath would make a decent wife for the right guy. Nance is too high maintenance.

Fred: What’s the name of the woman you play in the band?

Carrie: Merrill?

Fred: Merrill would be interesting.

Carrie: She wasn’t an option!

Fred: I’m adding her. I’d pluck her out and add her.

Carrie: Well then if we can just choose anyone, I’d marry Gahvin. And you would be this little redheaded prop that I brought around.

Fred: Merrill wears like a white jumpsuit. That’s a million points right there.

Carrie: That’s a Devo fantasy for you.

Girls across America are going to be wearing white jumpsuits to your tour stops now.

Fred: Oh that would be nice. We’re bringing wedding rings with us. We are definitely prepared to have some proposals.

Carrie: We should do a couple marriages on stage. Maybe four different weddings?

Speaking of the “Portlandia” live shows, they sold out across the country in a matter of minutes. Was that a big surprise?

Fred: Yeah. Of course.

Carrie: It’s very flattering. We had no idea how things were going to go. We’re an untested live act, so we are just very flattered that people want to come see us.

What can people expect on the live show? Besides marriage proposals.

Fred: There will be music and a Q & A. We’ll show some clips from the show.

Carrie: We’re going to have some friends joining us on stage.

Fred: We want it to feel like it’s a visit in our living room.

You must have very large living rooms

Fred: Yeah, we do.

Are there going to be costume changes? Are you going to bring various “Portlandia” characters to life on stage?

Fred: We’re going to be dressed as Devo fans in white jumpsuits.

Carrie: I guess there’s no one to take over the show while we change, so we can’t really do it.

Fred: No costume changes. There’s no time.

Carrie: Well, while we’re screening some clips, maybe.

Fred: There’s no time! We can’t!

Carrie: When I saw Madonna’s Like a Prayer tour she changed her costumes six or seven times. She set the bar pretty high.

Fred: We can’t do it! But, no joke, Liberace did a month of Christmas shows at a theater where I was an usher. There were so many costume changes. But we can’t. Really. We can’t do it! There’s no time! We can’t.

Carrie: There’s no screen to go behind and change, I guess. However, there will be partial nudity, yes, but no costume changes.

Fred: Just costumes off. That will be a change.

Can you tell us who some of the special guests and friends will be who will be joining you on stage during the tour?

Fred: No.

Carrie: You can make guesses based on our location. For New York and Los Angeles that will be pretty hard, because there are so many people there. But you can guess anyway.

How are you going to be touring? Two on a match in a van?

Carrie: The actual dates are pretty far apart. The first couple of shows, yes, we’re going to travel by car. It’s just from Portland to Seattle. But the rest of the dates are really spread out from LA to Chicago and New York. So we’re going to travel via the greatest mode of transportation: A jet airplane. I tour enough.

Fred: Not a private jet.

Carrie: No, we can rough it.


Are we going to see some of the same characters from season one in season two?

Fred: There will be some new people, but some of our favorites are coming back, too. Like Candace and Toni from the feminist bookstore.

Carrie: Then there are lots of new characters who appear more than once.

If you had to be one of your characters for the rest of your life who would it be?

Fred: Oh it would have to be one that would keep us healthy and have the nicest things.

Carrie: That’s a nice way to think about it. Most of our characters are pretty healthy.

Maybe not the dumpster divers.

Carrie: Maybe not them. Maybe Kath and Dave are too high strung? Maybe Michelle and Brendan.

Fred: They at least enjoy things and enjoy life. Doug and Claire would definitely take us places.

Will the characters have grown at all during the hiatus? Or is it more of a “Seinfeld”-ian no hugs, no growing idea?

Fred: We got into all of them a little bit more. So you will see different and new aspects of each of them.

How should we spend the last few minutes of this interview?

Fred: Arguing of course.

How about instead, what is the most important thing people should know about the show?

Carrie: It is most important that people know it is on. Then once it’s on, there are a lot of messages in each episode.

Fred: We want them to watch One Moore Episode.

“Portlandia” returns to IFC on January 6th at 10 p.m. ET

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